14 Misconceptions You Might Still Have About Lebanon If You’re Not Lebanese

@sandrabaho | @people.lebanon

Lebanon holds over 7.5 million in population in about 10,452 Km2 space area. This is fairly small compared to other countries and yet it has been largely prejudiced by misconceptions.

It hasn’t helped that the international media stream as well as certain Hollywood-made movies tend to spread these misconceptions and even add to them by creating ones, let alone depicting an unflattering image of Lebanon and even its people.

We could name a few prejudicial movies that have done their shares of staining Lebanon’s image or spreading falsehoods, but, hey, let’s not promote them by naming them.

Let’s instead go through these common misconceptions and prove them wrong:

All Lebanese are dark skin and dark eyes

It has been an unfortunate topic in the west, especially the western media in recent times, to refer to all Middle Easterns including Lebanese as people of dark skin, or “brown” somehow somewhat. It is not only racist but untrue.

The Lebanese population is formed of natives with different features and looks where blond and auburn hair and colored eyes are also common.

Narrow-minded people

Another weird misconception with no basis since the Lebanese have always been open to the world, to the new, to innovation, and to progress.

They are welcoming and friendly to visitors and tourists. They are travelers, since the Phoenician era, and love discovering the world and sharing the best of their culture and talents.

Small Country = No Diversity

The thing about Lebanon is that despite it being one of the smallest countries in the Middle East, it arguably has one of the most diverse religious confessions and subcultures.

It is multi-religious where you can find mosques and churches right next to each other and where diverse religious celebrations take place and are shared across the different communities.

The only or main spoken language is Arabic

Lebanon, opposite to popular belief, is multi-lingual. The majority of people speak at least 2 to 3 languages quite fluently – Arabic-Lebanese, English, French, and even Armenian – and on a daily basis.

If you know someone Lebanese, they’re much more likely to speak a language that is a mix of everything – Lebanese created and very common in everyday communication.

Mostly Desert?

This misconception is most specific to outsiders or those who haven’t visited Lebanon for the most part (or don’t tune in to 961 to see the natural wonders of the country).

The cedar tree, centered in the Lebanese flag, should be an obvious analogy but some still seem to wonder.

For a fact, Lebanon holds a large area of green, nature reserves, and rolling hills. It contains excellent blues, gorgeous lakes and rivers, and a stunning mix of mesmerizing beaches and snowy winter mountains.

Strict Society

Lebanon is quite the opposite of strict and scary. Anyone who knows Lebanon well will tell you that the people here are one of the most hospitable and welcoming in the world. They will invite you to their homes, feed you the tastiest of Lebanese cuisine, and even take you for a free tour around.

Unsafe Country

Lebanon is always misinterpreted as being a dangerous country because of internal political conflicts and constant tension with Israel. However, unlike many countries deemed “highly developed,” Lebanon is practically safe. No racial crimes, no school mass shootings, no teen delinquency in the streets, and so on.

There have been thefts in recent times due to the dire economic crisis but the internal security forces are monitoring.

Lebanon’s social image portrayed by the international media stream is entirely different from the actual situation.

If you spend some time in Lebanon, you’ll find that the atmosphere is truly welcoming and generally safe.

Camels to commute?

Lebanon is not a desert, nor does it have camels. Although you might find some for recreation purposes or in remote locations, these are rare.

The Lebanese, in fact, don’t only commute in cars, they tend to be smitten with the latest models, and it is common for households to have at least 2 to 3 cars.

A dull country

In Lebanon, people form the bulk of enjoyment. You will always have a companion to go out with and have fun in the souks of Beirut, Byblos, and other time-worthy pubs and clubs.

Its nightlife is legendary and so is its art scene with many concerts and festivals taking place around the year. Lebanon, in fact, boasts so many exciting things to do.

A Muslim-Only country

Lebanon is home to 18 official religious confessions. These co-exist beautifully despite some political tension from time to time, knowing that this is the case in many other parts of the world.

A warring country

This is such a fallacy as Lebanon is presented by the international media as a warring country when the situation is none of that. The Lebanese love life and love to enjoy it and live in peace.

Lebanon is a tense area to avoid

With all the events that happened in recent times in Lebanon – the Lebanese Revolution, the Beirut Blast, and overall distress – foreigners might think that Lebanon is a magnet for all the unrest.

However, it isn’t the case. Millions of tourists seek Lebanon during summer to enjoy the amazing things the country has to offer.

The Lebanese are indeed fighting for their rights and dignity but their endeavors have been mostly peaceful despite some events.

Majorly uneducated and illiterate?

Somehow, people in the west assume that the Lebanese population is generally uneducated and illiterate, which is totally the opposite.

Lebanon takes pride in its worldwide high-ranked universities, and its culture of parents heavily investing in their children’s education.

Lebanon is also a rich cradle of arts and literature, which it has been exporting to the world before even the ‘new world’ existed, including historical legends which continue to be taught in universities and schools across the globe.

Lebanese women are feeble and submissive

A misconception that must be clarified. Lebanon takes pride in having many women achievers.

Despite some oppressive and unfair laws that still obstruct their way, Lebanese women are strong and outspoken, and they are relentless activists for their rights, human rights, and social affairs.

Most NGOs in Lebanon are run by women. Their active presence in the Lebanese Revolution of recent times was striking. They fight oppression and corruption with the same determination and passion as their male peers.

And this is not new. As history recorded, Lebanese women had a crucial role in Lebanon obtaining its independence in 1942.

To summarize it all, if you haven’t visited Lebanon yet, do plan to do so and get amazed at how wonderful this small country is.

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