Friday, June 25, 2010

Visit Lebanon! (Just not as a foreign worker)

Yara Bayoumy is positively giddy about Lebanon.  In an over-the-top public relations piece for the country, "Resilient Lebanon attracts tourists, money, glamour", the Reuters correspondent shares her unbridled enthusiasm for economic prospects this year:
Already Arab Gulf tourists fill the capital's five-star hotels, their gas-guzzling Hummers choke Beirut's narrow streets and their Asian staff struggle to carry dozens of shopping bags emblazoned with the names of top international brands. 
Beaches brim with bikini-clad, tanned women and come nighttime, clubs host Europe's top DJs who play to audiences of thousands, many of whom are flush with cash from jobs abroad and are happy to spend hundreds of dollars on food, drink and music.
Sadly, we're not on the A-list nor have we personally benefited from $80/barrel oil so we won't be throttling our Hummer through Beirut or doing the Surra de Bunda in the discos anytime soon.  We do know however, that while foreign female tourists may be living it up on the beaches and in the clubs, foreign female workers, 15 percent of whom are beaten and many of whom are murdered each year by their employers, will not be similarly enjoying the good life.  Nor will gays incidentally, for whom homosexuality is still a crime.  However, we don't want to rain on Bayoumy's parade:
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's government has also pledged to implement reforms, from privatization to slashing debt, and the IMF predicts another year of economic growth of 8 percent.
Lebanon's resilience and ability to rebound from crises is what encourages many people to visit and spurs investors to pour millions of dollars in real estate projects, one of the country's biggest money-making sectors...
Now it's skyline is dotted with cranes working to build multi-million dollar skyscrapers and five-star hotels.
Actually, the IMF has forecast economic growth for Lebanon of 6 percent in 2010 and 4.5 percent in 2011 but hey, per capita wealth in the country still edges out Botswana.

Bayoumy again:
The influx of cash is also apparent in lavish schemes. For $250 per person, a crane will lift you and 21 others 50 meters above ground to enjoy dinner while taking in Beirut's sights. Just want to watch the sunset? That'll be $120.
Now this bit of information certainly won't attract tourists.  Why pay $250 to be hung from a crane when Lebanon's benefactor Iran offers that at no charge?

Sorry, we're feeling a bit cheeky today.

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