06 October 2008

* Dubai Cityscape Exhibition...Defies Global Market Crumble!

Visitors look at a model display of new projects by property company Emaar during the Cityscape exhibition in Dubai October 6, 2008. Gulf Arab property firms launched $100 billion of new projects on Monday, but the news failed to restore investor confidence as fears grow that the global credit crunch is biting and the local real estate market overheating.

American actor Michael Douglas, second left, with his wife Catherine Zeta Jones arrive at the Atlantis Hotel for the presentation of 270 hectares Nakheel Harbour & Tower project in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008

From left to right, British actress Catherine Zeta Jones, Craig Kielburger, founder and Chair Free The Children, Manal Shaheen, director of Sales, Marketing of Nakheel and U.S. actor Michael Douglas pose with a Dirhams 7,000,000 equal to $ 1,900,000 donated by Nakheel to Free The Children during a conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Oct. 6, 2008.

Nakheel is poised to build a tower that will be more than one kilometre high, as part of a 140 billion-dirham ($38.12 billion) project that will include the world’s first inner city harbour, company executives said.

FT: Nakheel, which is owned by the government of Dubai, at the weekend launched the project to build the world’s tallest tower and inland harbour. On Monday another government company, Meraas Development, said it would redevelop a swath of the city over 12 years in a Dh350bn project to be called Jumeira Gardens. The intention is that this scheme too should include another of the world’s tallest towers and reclaimed islands off the coast.


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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.