21 August 2007

K-Lynn fashion lingerie

BEIRUT - Young Ukrainian models in flimsy lingerie spray champagne at a boisterous crowd of young Lebanese at a swanky beach resort south of Beirut -- barely a year after Israeli bombs were falling nearby.

Drinks in hand, shapely women in skimpy bikinis dance to the latest club song with men smoking Cuban cigars, underlining the image of a wealthy hedonist minority seizing any chance to escape their country's political crisis and uncertain future.

The scene at the Oceana beach resort near Damour seems a world away from Lebanon's sectarian tensions and political standoff symbolized by an opposition protest encampment that has paralyzed downtown Beirut for the past nine months.

The instability has crippled Lebanon's tourist season, but at least some Lebanese are determined to ignore worries about a new civil war or the army's three-month-old battle with Islamist militants at a Palestinian refugee camp in the north.

"We've lived through times with war and bombs. So it doesn't make a difference to us any more. Blood doesn't scare us," said beachgoer Dany Zougheib, a 32-year-old computer expert, recalling the war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

Trying to recover from that conflict, some upscale resorts are luring customers back with lingerie fashion shows, open-air concerts or international disc jockeys -- Dutch DJ Tiesto drew a rapturous crowd of 15,000 to Edde Sands resort near Byblos in July, with ticket prices ranging from $35 to $75.

Oceana's show on Sunday featured teenage Ukrainian models prancing on stage by the sparkling Mediterranean in everything from shimmery and diamante-encrusted bikinis to lacy underwear.

Their faux chain and faux fur lingerie along with kitsch French maid costumes attracted wolf whistles and furious camera clicking from Lebanese men -- many of them showing off body tattoos and designer boxers beneath their swimming shorts.

"Until three weeks ago, it seemed that people couldn't forget the scars of last year's war. But now Damour is back again," said Fady Saba, Oceana's general manager, referring to the coastal strip about 20 km (13 miles) from Beirut.

"I'm not worried about Lebanese people. They're forcing themselves to have fun because they want to forget. They don't want to know anything about the crisis," he told Reuters.


It certainly seemed so at the weekend in Oceana where Lebanese were dancing non-stop at the pool bar, ordering copious bottles of wine or tanning lazily on private wooden platforms.

Away from the beach resorts, Beirut's bar and club strips on Rue Gemayze and Rue Monot are once again heaving with people and pulsating with music into the early hours at weekends.

Lebanon has always been a favored tourist destination in the Middle East, especially for Gulf Arabs, because of its mild weather, beaches, nightlife and relatively liberal atmosphere.

While tensions between the Western-backed government and Hezbollah-led opposition have scared off most foreigners -- who usually account for up to 40 percent of Oceana's clientele -- some Arab tourists just cannot stay away.

"I've been coming to Lebanon since 1995. It was hellish last year when we had to escape the war via Syria, but here I am again. I wouldn't choose to spend summer anywhere else," said Khaled al-Omari from Kuwait as he basked in the sun.

Young Lebanese were also adamant about making the most of their summer despite a brewing crisis over presidential polls.

"We're worried about the presidential elections, but we're not going to stop living until politicians agree on something," said Mark Khoury, 26, lounging near the poolside bar.-(yahoo)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.