Lebanon

[travel info]

Ahlan wa Sahlan!!  Welcome!  We are delighted to welcome you to Lebanon to celebrate our wedding.  It is a country of extremes, contrasts, and even contradictions – but ultimately of beauty.  Few countries around the world contain the overflowing passion for life as Lebanon can.  In addition to the incredible events planned for our special guests throughout the week of July 9th, we hope you will find time to explore (responsibly) and discover some of the many qualities that have fostered that passion.

Getting to Beirut

Travel to Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut is relatively easy. There are direct flights to Beirut from dozens of well-known European, Middle Eastern and African hubs. If you need assistance booking your flight, you may contact Kurban Travel, who is managing our various logistic requirements throughout Beirut:

Dedicated email: celineandjad@kurbantravel.com
Dedicated phone number: +961 1 420 661

Visas

U.S. and EU Citizens can obtain a visa on arrival for a stay of up to 30 days for tourist purposes.  Travelers should hold return tickets, in addition to an address and phone number in Lebanon (e.g. hotel info). Passports must not contain any evidence of prior or intended travel to Israel (that’s reality, folks… not much we can do about it!).  For more information on visas, contact your local Lebanese embassy or consulate or visit here. Feel free to consult with Kurban Travel with the contact information listed above.

Hotels and Accommodation

Beirut has been welcoming international visitors for centuries. Hotel options are plentiful, but we have blocked rooms and negotiated rates for you at several select hotels. Click here to view hotel options and rates. In all cases, make sure to mention you are “Celine Zabad & Jad Najjar Wedding Guests” when contacting the relevant focal points. For transportation to your hotel from Beirut Airport, we recommend you book pick-up service (official taxi or hotel car service) through your hotel directly. Do not take a taxi from the airport.

If you are considering alternative options for hotels and accommodation, please note complimentary shuttle services for the wedding events will only be departing to/from our recommended hotels.

TOURISM/TO DO/TO EAT

No matter what kind of tourist you are, Lebanon has much to offer. Be spontaneous and sightsee Beirut on your own, plan an itinerary for the week, or take advantage of suggested tours preceding the evening functions (more below). Either way, we strongly encourage you to use the days on which no events are scheduled for full day tours, so that you still have energy for the exciting evenings we’ve got planned for you.

If you prefer to experience the sights and tastes of Lebanon the way a Lebanese would, then click here for activities hand-picked by our insiders (Lana Chukri, Joanna Samaha, and Rana Khadra). For reference, you can also review the articles and videos suggested below.

Full Day Tours July 10th & 14th

For those preferring more structure and guides, click here to view all optional tours and relevant rates provided by Kurban Travel. For bookings, you may contact Kurban Travel by email (celineandjad@kurbantravel.com) or phone (+961 1 420 661).

Suggested Daytime Tour on Tuesday, July 11th

The "Cedars of God" is one of the last vestiges of the extensive forests of the Lebanon Cedar that once thrived across Mount Lebanon in ancient times, which for millennia was exploited by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, and others, and which today is synonymous with Lebanon and graces its flag. Simply known as Al Arz, this UNESCO World Heritage site of nearly ~400 cedar trees is one of the most dramatically beautiful spots in the country. Just below the cedars is the town of Bcharre, the birthplace of Gibran Khalil Gibran. Prior to the function in Bishmizzeen, enjoy an optional tour of Al Arz and The Gibran Museum.

Hotel Departure: 8:00a.m.
Price: US$30.00 per person
Rate includes: transportation – professional guide – taxes

Suggested Daytime Tour on Wednesday, July 12th

Home to more than half the country’s population, Beirut is the capital and largest city in Lebanon. Chic, sexy and ultramodern but still steeped in scars and a history of a conflicted past, what Beirut is depends mostly on where you are in the Capital. One daytime tour certainly won’t capture everything Beirut has to offer, but it can cover some essentials! First start with a tour of the 10-kilometer long seafront promenade, Al Manara Corniche, overlooking one of Lebanon’s most iconic natural landmarks – Pigeon’s Rock. Continue to Saifi Village in the heart of Beirut, a neighborhood containing some of Beirut’s most distinguished art and design boutiques and galleries. End your trip in our historic Martyr’s Square, which commemorates heroes executed under the Ottoman Rule in World War I.

Hotel Departure: 10:00a.m.
Cost: US$25.00 per person
Rate includes: transportation – professional guide – taxes

Suggested Daytime Tour on Thursday, July 13th

Taanayel is Lebanon’s piece of heaven: a small village with tree-lined alley ways, ducks roaming the famous lake’s calm water, and vineyards that bring Italy’s Tuscany to mind. Visit Lebanon’s second biggest winery in the Beqaa Valley at Chateux Kefraya and frolic in a greenery that makes you forget all your troubles. Drink responsibly though as more awaits you in our event that evening.

Hotel Departure: 8:00a.m.
Price: US$30:00 per person
Rate includes: transportation – professional guide – taxes

PAMPER YOURSELF

If you’re wondering where you can get your hair & make up done, or have a nice mani pedi and pamper yourself for all the upcoming events, we recommend you visit:

Kassem Ghaddar Hair Salon, where you can rest assured to get your hair styled and pampered like never before.  For appointments, please call +961 1 787067 or +961 3 076519 and mention "Celine & Jad Guests"

Jihan Beauty Salon, where both men and women can enjoy high end personal care and beauty services.  Visit her website here and her facebook account here for more information and bookings

Pace E Luce Hair & Beauty Salon where the trends of hairstyling and make up have been set - you certainly can't go wrong.  Please visit their website here for more information.

Fadi Kataya for the most stunning make-up and other services, please call +961 1 343404 / +961 3 689498 for appointments and visit their website here for more information.

SAFETY & SECURITY

As a good friend once said: “I was worried about road-side bombs and checkpoints. I didn’t realize the thing I had to watch out for the most were crazy drivers, and crossing the street!”

Lebanon has survived a violent and well-publicized history of Civil War (1975-90), which left deep scars in the tissue of our society and infrastructure, scars that are still evident today. Yes, our neighborhood is a rough one. But the Lebanese spirit is unconquerable and few populations uphold the principles of tolerance the way Lebanese can. Rest assured, your safety is our TOP PRIORITY.

Our hotel recommendations have been heavily vetted for security and privacy, and the destinations we have selected for you will not expose you to any more danger than what you might face in popular tourist destinations like Times Square or the Las Vegas Strip. Nevertheless, you still have to use common sense, watch your step and mind your mouth… just as you would in L.A., New York City, London, Paris, Brussels, Istanbul or Dubai.

Travelling Around Beirut:
If you’ve been to Beirut before, you know that traffic is a nightmare and driving requires a unique combination of courage and riskiness, a passive-aggressive defensive driving style. If you don’t know what that means, don’t get behind the wheel! If this is up your alley, both global and local car rental agencies are available.

In the interest of safety and organization, we recommend you utilize the buses and shuttles we will be offering to and from our wedding events from our recommended hotels. For additional exploring you wish to do on your own, we recommend you use private hotel transport, hotel recommended taxi agencies, rental car agencies, or Uber. All are in plentiful supply.

Currency:
The USD is widely accepted throughout Lebanon, and the Lebanese pound, or lira, are pegged at 1,500 Lbp to US$1. Credit Cards are widely accepted, and if you plan to use it, you should opt to be charged in US dollar.

Emergency Numbers:
Red Cross / Ambulance: 140
Fire: 175
Police: 112
Civil Defense: 125
General Security: 1717

Hospitals in Beirut:
1. American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), Beirut, +961 1 374374
2. Clemenceau Medical Center (CMC), Beirut, +961 1 364287

Food in Lebanon:
Water, air and soil are different in Beirut. That’s why our food tastes so good! But not all stomachs, or kitchens, are created equal. Some tourists tend to have a higher sensitivity to fruits and vegetables. That’s why packing some anti-diarrheal and your preferred medicines from home might be a good idea. All catering for our wedding is provided by companies who are as well-known for their cleanliness and hygiene as they are for their flavors. If you’re on your own and searching for the best falafel or shawarma, or want to experience other Lebanese food options, please visit our Tourism/To Do/To Eat section.

Violence:
According to World Life Expectancy, an organization that uses primary data from the World Health Organization, The World Bank, UNESCO, and individual country databases to compile global health rankings, Lebanon ranks #129 when it comes to “Violence” (El Salvador ranks #1, and Japan ranks #172). Many popular tourist destinations are statistically more “violent” than Lebanon: Turkey (#109), United States (#85), Thailand (#73), Bahamas (#31), and Mexico (#15) to name a few. See for yourself!

In fact, the top 5 leading causes of death in Lebanon are (info here):

TOP 5 CAUSES OF DEATH + World Rank

  1. Coronary Heart Disease - 44
  2. Stroke - 138
  3. Breast Cancer - 17
  4. Road Traffic Accidents - 84
  5. Prostate Cancer - 86

If you’d rather not take our word for it and prefer a more institutional perspective on safety, security and politics in Lebanon, please visit the following: