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The Positive Light of Lebanon



“Lebanon is simply a mix between the Arab and the European world. A mix between Christian and Muslim culture.” – Rawad Abi-Mansour, an architect born and raised in Lebanon before moving to America

Perfectly situated between Syria and Israel, while also being located directly across from Cyprus, Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest countries with nearly 5,000 years of history.

While Lebanon’s long history and a rich diverse culture have so much to offer in terms of deeper knowledge and greater appreciation, the country continues to be negatively portrayed.

Part of that stems from its past history of civil wars and violence that occurred in the country during the late 20th and early 21st century. One misunderstanding of Lebanon is being labeled as a dangerous and violent country like other Middle Eastern countries.

Kerianne Asea, an undergrad student from New Jersey, agrees that there is a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes with Lebanon and the Middle East.

She describes the typical conversations she has with others regarding Lebanon, saying: “The stereotype and misconception I get from others is dangerous and the country might be considered extreme since it is in the Middle East region of the world.”

Lara Tabet, a student and housewife currently living in Mexico City, offers a similar perspective. She recalls the moment when she invited her American friends to her wedding in Lebanon this summer.

Describing her friend’s parents reaction, she said, “Her parents were wary of them going because they think Lebanon is a country of war and danger. they went to Lebanon and were blown away. They didn’t want to leave and will continue to make it a visited spot.”

Courtesy of Mr. Rawad Abi Mansour

The other misunderstanding of Lebanon is its religion. While most Middle Eastern countries have significant Muslim populations, Lebanon’s religious demography is diverse (18 officially recognized religious groups). Currently, 54% of Lebanese are Muslim (27% Shia and 27% Sunni) while 40.5% are Christian (including 21% Maronite Catholic). Religious identity is an integral part of Lebanese daily life. Understanding these two misunderstandings ensures that more positive light will be shared about Lebanon and its diverse culture.

For starters, Lebanese cuisine reflects on many historical civilizations that have gathered and brought their culinary expertise and creativity to the country. Some of these well-known dishes include Baba Ghanoush, Tabbouleh, Fattoush, and Baklava.

Lebanon is also known for its breathtaking nature, namely its mountains and cedar trees.

Rawad Abi-Mansour, an architect who was born and raised in Lebanon and currently resides in New Jersey, illustrates the beauty of the mountains as “where you feel God and you can see the beauty of this earth. This is where many poets and writers came to get their inspirations from.”
Family life is significant in Lebanon. Mark Feghali, a software engineer based in New York, reflects on Lebanese family life as “the touching reminder of how important family life is when we are greeted at the airport by a dozen aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of them fighting over who gets to drive us home.”

Courtesy of Mr. Rawad Abi Mansour

These positive attributes paint a more insightful, meaningful picture of how sophisticated Lebanon is.

Just like the infamous saying, “Never judge a book by its cover because one will never know its true beauty.” Lebanon is truly the hidden gem the world should explore further.

By: Francis Asprec

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