Is It Safe (or even Sane) to Travel to Beirut?

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Beirut Souks decked out for Christmas

Since my May 2015 post on safety in Beirut is my most popular ever, I wanted to post an update on the situation. Some of you are reading because you know me personally, and like to stay in touch and worry about me and my family living here. And some of you are reading because you’re planning a trip to Beirut – for work, or to visit your spouse’s family for the holidays. (And maybe someone somewhere is planning a trip for pure tourism, but I have to admit, that seems highly unlikely.)  You may have seen the U.S. State Department’s most recent travel warning, issued December 11th, and are wondering if you are in your right mind to come visit.

As I wrote this week for the Wall Street Journal Expat blog about hosting visitors, “If I thought we were at risk, I wouldn’t have my kids here.”

I acknowledge that the peace Lebanon does have is fragile. And it’s true that a bomb could go off at any time. There hadn’t been a bomb in over a year, and on the same day in November that I had scheduled a tweet linking to my post on safety in Beirut, there was a bomb. (I pray I’m not jinxing anything now by writing about the topic again!)

On the other hand, if I were living in the U.S., a guy with a gun could walk into my movie theater or my kids’ school and start randomly shooting at any time. There have been hundreds of mass shootings in the U.S. in the past year,* and one bombing in Lebanon in the same time frame. If I were living in Paris, I would have risked getting caught in the horrifying massacre that took place two days after Beirut’s tragedy. All terrible things, but not a reason to run away from Beirut or Paris or Aurora or Newtown.

I don’t embrace danger, but I also refuse to be paralyzed by fear.

Life holds no guarantees, but we can confront our fears rather than let them rule us. The Lebanese do an amazing job of demonstrating that principle, and in this regard, I hope to keep taking my cues from them.

My mother-in-law sent worried messages to my husband when the U.S. travel warning made the news in Italy. He sent back pictures of us having dessert on the terrace of the newly-opened Cheescake Factory here in Beirut. I’ll leave you instead with a few more images of Beirut decked out for the holiday season.

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Creative lighting at a posh clothing store in downtown Beirut. I love it!

 

 

*Mass shootings are defined as those in which 4 or more people have been shot (either wounded or killed). ShootingTracker lists 353 mass shootings in the U.s. in 2015 as of December 2nd, and Gun Violence Archive has recorded another 8 since then.

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11 thoughts on “Is It Safe (or even Sane) to Travel to Beirut?

  1. JUDITH CROSS says:

    Dear Amy, You are quite a woman!! I love your blogs and how
    eloquently you write… may you and your family have a very joyful holiday….love, your cousin Judy

  2. cupcakeamy says:

    Thanks so much Judy! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!!

  3. So glad to hear you feel safe (well, relatively). Yes, we at Queen Anne Lutheran have thought of you in recent weeks.

  4. Graham Askey says:

    I am happy to say I will be your highly unlikely tourist later this year. Thanks for the update

  5. You make such a great point when you say “I also refuse to be paralyzed by fear.” I have found this traveling to Turkey as well, I felt completely safe, and no matter where you are in the world (I would say especially the United States), unsafe things can occur. You just have to be aware and take keys from the locals.

    • cupcakeamy says:

      Indeed. Although the problems that Lebanon faces are far more dramatic, the likelihood of me getting mugged, for example, is *far* more likely in Rome than Beirut, and more likely than the possibility of my ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time in Beirut to boot.

  6. gelutweb says:

    Dear Amy,

    Just came across your blog while googling info on “life in Beirut”. You made me smile, I absolutely loved this post! How long have you been living there? I’m moving in a few days with the hubby and our 15 months old baby girl. We’re most probably renting an apartment we found through an agency. It’s near the doctors’ syndicate – any idea how that area is?

    • cupcakeamy says:

      Just celebrated our fourth anniversary of living in Beirut! (Where does the time go?)
      For the location, I am not sure where you mean, but I found on Google maps the “Lebanese Order of Physicians”. If that is the same, it’s not necessarily a neighborhood where you will have expat neighbors on your street like Hamra, Badaro or Ashrafieh, but it is conveniently located. Good luck with the move!!

  7. […] Petty crime rates are low here, and school shootings are unheard of. See this earlier post and this one for more about safety in Beirut.) But the challenges facing the U.S. today are also a motivation […]

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