I’m writing above the cacophony of the busy roads, enjoying the hotel’s panoramic view of Beirut’s sprawling, and rapidly expanding, skyscape.
The week has been busy, meeting with two client projects at opposite ends of the city. Country visits are crucial, allowing a personal understanding of the issues that local staff face and first-hand analysis of the security situation.
It quickly became apparent that, although the situation at the time of visiting was largely calm, albeit potentially disturbed by the arrival of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the final day, civil unrest can erupt rapidly. Its under such scenarios that a need for robust contingency plans, covering everything from a medical emergency, to a full evacuation out of country, was reinforced. Only in 2006, military action by Israel led to thousands of international visitors being evacuated by various embassies out of Beirut. Aside from the looming prospect of civil unrest, Beirut as a whole has been extremely welcoming, with vibrant nightlight and excellent food. I experienced the ruthless competition between falafel shops; each claiming to be the city’s best, while enjoying the convenience of coffee shops which remain open until the early hours. I’ll be sad to leave.