Is Beirut The Sin City Of The Arab World?

Gays, transvestites, aphrodisiacs, edible underwear, kinky leather, handcuffs, The Vagina Monologues? A Middle East Times article suggests Beirut may be the Sin City of the Arab world.

An interesting quote:

“The Arab world is caught between fundamentalism and the sexual vulgarities seen in video clips and magazines, while in Lebanon there are people who are tackling sexual issues with seriousness and a sense of humor,” she adds (Nidal Ashkar)

Someone proves her point…

The widespread coverage given to her play in the Arab media has stirred a heated debate, particularly within the online community. On the Internet site of Dubai-based Al Arabiya television, one angry Arab user wondered whether “there are no more men in Lebanon to force women to be decent as required by God.”

But a number of Internet users in Gulf Arab states also called on Khoury to keep the production going – so that they can see it when they visit Lebanon during the summer holidays.

I never knew men were supposed to force “their women” to be decent. This kind of reminds me of a scene from “Madrasat Al Moshaghbeen” when Said Saleh was talking to Adel Imam about his trip to Beirut but I can’t remember it word for word.

I dont know; are we doomed to swing from one extreme to the other extreme? Which begs the question of whether one extreme deserves another? Is the middle ground so gray at this point that it’s no longer visible? I guess what sucks about being somewhere in the middle – or at least what sucks about having the desire to settle for a middle ground – is that the far left will say you’re too backwards, too conservative, too fanatic, too close minded…and the far right will say you’re destroying the delicate social fabric of our very existance, not to mention that you’re dissapointing God.

I know where we’ve been and I have some idea of where we are, it’s the ‘where are we going’ that I have no clue about. Do we define a “developed” society as one where there are no taboos, where nothing is sacred, where everything that was once concealed is now normalized? This is not (for once) a rhetorical question.

All societies must eventually develop and eventually progress to some other stage; some other point on their timeline. I just don’t see the direction is all; at least not from where we’re currently standing. We want to develop and we want to progress, there’s no doubt about that. But how do we seek to define that development?

Reminds me of high school, how one would try to imitate those much older than him/her, in an attempt to be called “mature”, or to pass oneself off as “older” and therefore more “credible”, more “acceptable”, more “likable”, more “popular”.

Which begs the question (at least for me) of whether we are truly choosing our own destinies, forging our own way of life, creating something original…or simply trying to do the best impersonation ever. Impersonations are the highest form of flattery but I’m not so sure they were meant to work on a mass social level.

So if you’re searching for the middle ground then I guess you just have to sit back and wait for the war of the extremes. Black vs. White: Right vs. Left.

An impending downfall where everyone will emerge from the haze with no recollection of the ideals that they were fighting for.

As for Beirut…it’s only one domino in a long line…


  • said salah quote is ” اÙ?Ù?Ù?رارات فÙ? بÙ?رÙ?ت سÙ?Ù?Ø© اÙ?Ù?

  • At least lebanon is decent, they country depends on tourism and trust me no one’s gonna pay for seeing women looking like ninja to see…
    this is nonsense. i find lebanon so nice and i have amazing memories among the vacations that i’ve spent there.

  • By suggesting that Beirut is the first domino to fall, you have already passed negative judgment on the Lebanese way… I beg to differ.

    It is absurd to consider a play about women’s sexuality an indication of being in a “sin city”. This reflects a typical Arab/Moslem perversion of logic, where a serious, necessary conversation about sex is equated with vulgar and hedonistic sexual expressions. A sin city would be a place with a large prostitution and escort industry like Dubai, not a place where boys and girls have serious public conversations about matters that many Arabs and moslems don’t find important: one’s sexuality ,the relationship between the genders and women’s empowerment.

    In open societies, a taboo shouldn’t have a place. If societies want to advance, they have to be dynamic. they need to talk about their problems and issues and conduct open debates to find the “middle grounds” you so eagerly seek..

    One shouldn’t doubt the importance of values, as they form the backbone of any successful society. But it is very important to differentiate between fundamental values that never change, like fairness, honesty, courage and compassion on one hand, and values that are open to debate like the role of women and homosexuals on the other.

  • Mustapha, I’m not passing any negative judgement on the Lebanese way, in fact I didn’t say anything negative about Lebanon at all. My apologies if it sounded that way. What I meant by the falling domino is that Beirut undoubtedly represents an extreme within the general context of the Middle East or Arab nations. Hence we can compare it to Saudi Arabia for example, these are, by the standards of our region, our two extremes. How we view these extremes is up to our personal worldviews. Some might see Lebanon as the negative extreme and some might see Saudi Arabia as the negative extreme: some might see both and some neither. And I didnt say it was the “first to fall”, I said it was a domino piece in a long line which naturally includes other pieces that represent every city in the Arab world. What I was highlighting with that final statement is that while this article calls Beirut a “sin city” it fails to recognise a similar phenomena all over the Arab world.

    concerning the second paragraph, I didn’t say Beirut is a “sin city”, the article did…the title of my post is in fact a question as opposed to the title of the article which is a statement.

    regarding the last two paragraphs: I can agree with you on that to some degree. It depends on an analysis of what one would consider the middle ground, as well as what issues and problems actually need to be debated and dealt with accordingly. many of these topics including fundemental values in the region are to some degree all subjective terms.

    thanks for the comment 🙂

  • The Vagina Monolgues is a brilliant play. It’s heavy-handed at times, and most of it is aimed squarely at the middle class, but it works. In a way, seeing that play changed my life. I realized I had to come out as a sexual abuse survivor. I realized that women can, and should, talk about these things.

    The Vagina Monologues plays in sleepy Bible Belt towns, and the people who don’t like it simply don’t go. Why should Beirut be any different?

    As for “forcing women to be decent,” I agree with you, that’s total crap.

Your Two Piasters: