The misguided Beast

So by now you have heard that “The Daily Beast” has rated Lebanon the worst place in the world to visit. Of course that’s ironic because it was just last year that Conde Nast, which probably has a lot more experience in travel journalism than the Beast, rated Lebanon as one of the best places to visit worldwide, just above Paris.

Of course The Beast offers no specific criteria or firsthand information on which the countries were judged, eroding any credibility this list may have.

Sure Lebanon is expensive, but a lot cheaper than Europe and similar if not cheaper than a lot of US cities. So why the 0/10 rating on costs? In fact some hotels have recently slashed prices here by up to 50 percent.

But what concerns me most is the safety rating at 2/3. Yes there has been terrorism in Lebanon, explosions and car bombs. Last year terrorist attacks claimed 102 lives; this year so far terrorist attacks have claimed 34 lives.

The numbers seem high but compare these to the crime rates in major US cities. Over 15 US cities have  murder rates higher than 100. In New York at 419 murders, over four times more people were killed than in Lebanese terrorism. In Chicago, there were 500 murders or five times as many–and Chicago has a little over half the population of Lebanon. In Los Angeles, which is also smaller than Lebanon, nearly 300 murders; in Houston 200 murders; and the list goes on including Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Detroit, Indianapolis and even Baltimore, just 40 miles outside the US capital with 219 murders and barely a quarter the population of Lebanon.

Yes these cities are not the ‘best to visit’ list either but they are also not among the worst and certainly do not get anywhere near the amount of coverage on CNN, The New York Times or State Department warnings as Beirut.

What about the other countries on the “worst” list: Iran and Jordan. Seriously? Those countries have almost zero crime compared to the United States, Europe or South America.

Finally let’s look at some of the “Best” countries. Mexico at number 6 with a rating of 1/3 in terms of safety. Really? Only 100,000 people have been killed since 2006 in drug wars. Don’t get me wrong I love Mexico and I have family from there. I love New York too. And yes Beirut is getting more dangerous. But I’m tired of the disproportionate media attention.

If anything, Lebanon is becoming just as dangerous as any major US city, but you would never know that from reading The Daily Beast, State Department reports and major US newspapers and television outlets that spend way more time covering violence in exotic places than what is happening just a few miles or blocks away from their corporate offices.

UPDATE 3/15/14

The Daily Beast has now removed the article.  

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5 comments
  1. Habib,
    Lebanon is NOT cheaper than most US cities, nyc and Chicago maybe, that’s about it. Also our foreign ministry does nothing to protect visitors or foreigners from our culture of swindling and over pricing. In addition, yeah our crime isn’t so high on a personal level but from a security stand point we suck, no need to explain that. Im lebanese and love my country, but let’s face it we’re an acquired taste, not for everyone. Visitors love it or hate it. Frankly, the ones I meet love it, despite the clusterfuk that is Beirut.
    Peace

  2. I said many, not “most” Ramzi and there are several US cities that are more expensive. I’m not sure if there is a major difference between security and crime. People get killed either way.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this article. I definitely do believe Lebanon deserves to be on that list, but you shed light on some damn good points. There’s something about being blown apart to pieces while going to get a bag of bread from the dekene that outweighs being murdered by other means (I know the lack of logic in that, it’s a personal matter mostly). But at the same time, if we’re weighing out the statistics, we have it better than some other places not on the list. I thought the price thing was bullshit to be honest, especially if its in terms meant for tourists. Maybe a sandwich at Shawarmanji for $5 is a little overpriced for us, since we get paid jackshit here, but for an American with a different financial background, it’s a damn good deal.

  4. Unquestionably Lebanon deserves to be on such a list , what concerns me more ,is what Lebanon is doing to improve and get OFF such lists ,and the answer is plain …nothing !! The word Beirut has added a new word to world wide dictionaries , it displays visons of death, disaster, and mayhem , following their years of uncivil wars.
    since that time , they have added to colour that picture , indiscriminate amounts of mass murders , loosely disguised as assassinations ,of political and prominent figures in Lebanese society , these visons have filled our TV screens continuously since 2000, with only a short interval where she engaged in war with Israel ! at the end of which she simply reverted back to tradition and carried on with mass murders , and then lends a hand with one of the worlds dirtiest wars in Syria . With that as a backcloth ,what does the average Lebanese Joe Soap expect ?
    What is saddening is the country deserves much better appreciations , there is much more to Lebanon and Lebanese than this , she has a rich and somewhat complex culture , a unique and beautiful geological position , astounding foods , and a race of people who are the most resilient in the world .
    However this set against a modern day background of corruption and lawlessness, that takes her back to less than third world status , poor ,or little electricity supply , shocking road conditions ,only surpassed by horrendous driving conditions ,She has continuously degraded what was a natural gift , the godly Cedars have been reduced to 20% of what they were when she was described as the Switzerland of the M.E. , surfaced the country with swathes of concrete, in search of personal profits , effecting both climate and water tables , Air pollution that remains unchecked at high levels, sea pollution that renders fish and seafood unfit for human consumption,drinking water that cannot be trusted ( water for washing is highly contaminated ) sewage water running down many of the streets , now mixing with mountains of household waste , flooding in torrents along major highways ,rivers that feed raw waste and industrial chemicals directly into the Med , making swimming a dangerous pastime ,prices that are so high she has been rated with a higher index than Abu Dhabi , for expat considerations , Capital city for Capital city she is higher than Europe , provinces are much higher than their Euro counterpart ,regrettably despite having the world finest cuisine , she is now cursed with one of the worlds lowest Food & Health controls.
    On balance she is a an incredibly exciting social palace , with leisure clubs , sea sports , nightclubs restaurants bars and coffee shops , all creating a massive distraction , despite the meagre incomes of the masses , Lebanese have a zest for life and enjoy what is available to the max….stretching what cash is left ,after paying for their cars and cell phones ( greatly assisted by most boys and girls living at home until marriage , in some cases until their late 30s, ) stretching their disposable incomes …to sum up Lebanon as a clusterfuck would be about right, but should she decide to change this ,she will become again the Paris of the Middle East once again

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