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After riots and rage, Lebanon is ready to move on: Previously, former Lebanon PM Hariri had said he would not take part in a Hezbollah-dominated coalition, but this resolute stance seemed to be cracking. Ha'aretz
Business as usual despite riots across Lebanon, say bankers and brokers: Market is relaxed, size of conversions is getting smaller every day. Daily Star
Mikati sets sights on salvation government: Berri hints that Syria-Saudi deal still alive, says initiative not dependent on one person. Daily Star
Sports City – Jnah road blocked with burning tires: The National News Agency (NNA) reported on Monday that the Beirut road between Jnah – Sports City was blocked with burning tires by protestors. Lebanon Now
Hezbollah moves toward Lebanon government control: Hezbollah moved to the brink of controlling Lebanon's next government on Monday, setting off angry protests and drawing warnings from the U.S. AP
Hezbollah says will seek "partnership government": Hezbollah and its allies will not exclude any political party if its candidate for prime minister wins a parliamentary majority in talks starting Monday. Reuters
What might Hezbollah face once the trial begins?: The judicial train has finally left the station. The Daily Star
Davutoglu: Situation Takes More Positive Turn, Our Work is Built On S-S Efforts: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the situation in Lebanon has taken a "more positive turn" in an interview to the Al-Akbar newspaper. naharnet.com
Sleiman's gift to the political class: President Michel Sleiman’s decision to postpone consultations on naming a new prime minister was a wise move that should, among other outcomes, bring some calm to a nation decidedly on edge. The Daily Star
Hezbollah: accused and free as the wind: Despite the understandable anxiety about the collapse of the Lebanese government the most probable scenario is that, for now, things in Lebanon will stay much as they have been. Lebanon Now
Απόρρητο παραμένει το κατηγορητήριο για τη δολοφονία του Ραφίκ Χαρίρι: Το περιεχόμενο του κατηγορητηρίου, το οποίο στάλθηκε στο Βέλγο δικαστή Ντάνιελ Φράνσεν, δεν ανακοινώθηκε. zougla.gr
Hezbollah leader defends decision to bring down Lebanon's Western-backed government: The leader of Hezbollah on Sunday defended the decision to bring down Lebanon's Western-backed government, saying the Shiite militant group did so without resorting to violence and will not be intimidated by world reaction. AP
Lebanon's Hariri says no alternative to dialogue: "There is no alternative for all of us to dialogue, and no side in Lebanon will be able to eliminate the other," Hariri said. Reuters
Lebanon set for showdown over P.M. post: Hariri visits France and Turkey as his rivals strive to keep him out of next cabinet. The Daily Star
Lebanon starts work on next government: Prime minisster asked to stay as caretaker. Washington Post
Lebanon in limbo: a nation haunted by the murder of Rafiq Hariri. Robert Fist commentary. The Independent
Timeline: Political unrest in Lebanon Washington Post
Views on Lebanon political crisis: Commentators and media outlets react to the withdrawal of the Hezbollah-led opposition bloc from government. Al Jazeera
Unfortunately the only thing that Lebanon's political leader's managed to agree on was yet another postponement of the Parliament's vote for a new President and not a new head of state. Although Lebanon's political crisis has not been resolved yet, the worst has been avoided as both pro and anti government camps have not gone ahead with their threats to announce a new President without the other sides approval. A new date has been set for the election but as the head of state post is already empty the pressure to reach a settlement is not high. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more evident that forces outside Lebanon have too much influence on Lebanon's internal affairs. The heightened security in Beirut has meant that order and calm has been maintained but Lebanon's capital does not look as lively as usual. Despite the situation all our customers returning from Beirut reported no problems during their stays.
Not unexpectedly, yet another postponement, this time for November 21, 2007 is the latest development in Lebanon's quest for a new head of state. There has been no agreement between the Christian Maronite leaders for choosing President Lahoud's replacement. As the effects of not agreeing on a widely supported new President could be tragic for the country, it is hoped that even at the last possible moment agreement can be reached.
The saga of who will be Lebanon's next President continues with no positive conclusion yet. The Parliament's scheduled electoral meeting has yet again been postponed for November 12. It is very likely that no decision will be taken before the very end of the current Presidents term on November 24, 2007. Negotiations between Lebanon's Christian Maronite community, from which the country's Presidents are drawn, are continuing with plenty of potential candidates but no agreement yet. It is unclear what might happen if no countrywide consensus is reached on this very important matter in the coming month.
The recent murder of yet one more MP from the pro government side has yet again shown the difficulties Lebanon is faced with. In contrast, our latest group of tourists visiting Lebanon over the October 1st holiday enjoyed immensely their short break to the land of Cedars. The next key date for the election of the country's president is October 23. Hopefully, a consensus can be reached and a new president supported and representing all of Lebanon will head the country.
News from Lebanon are relatively encouraging. The militants at the North of the country have almost been eliminated by the Lebanese army in a show of determination to enforce the country's sovereignty. The August by elections run quite smoothly showing that Lebanon can remain a democratic country. The decision for who will be Lebanon's new president is still pending and hopefully the successful candidate will be widely accepted and will manage to lead the country forward. We feel confident enough to start promoting tourist packages to Beirut and have formulated some nice ones around the October 1st holiday. Not all of our daily tours from Beirut are yet available but feel free to contact us if you want to book any of our offerings.
With a couple of local by-elections, the appointment by parliament of a new president this fall and the Nahr al Bared camp issue still unresolved, the coming few weeks are seen as pivotal in shaping the direction Lebanon's situation will go. On a good note the Byblos festival, one of the three biggest ones in Lebanon, is still on for 2007.
Both the Baalbeck and the Beiteddine festivals have been cancelled for this year. Security concerns were sited as the major reason for the festivals being called off.
The situation in Lebanon is still fluid and not as safe as we would have hoped for. People are tense, security is heightened and the Fatah al-Islam problem still poses dangers. As threats to foreigners have been made, we recommend extra caution in your travels in Lebanon.
As efforts are again under way to find a solution to the political crisis that has plagued Lebanon, series of bomb attacks has shaken Lebanon. Achrafieh, Verdun and Aley were the scenes of bomb explosions in the last few days. Furthermore, the issue of Fatah al-Islam has not been resolved yet, with developments there and relating to it complicating further safety in Lebanon.
As the situation is unpredictable Varianos Travel is offering full refunds to any customers that do not wish to go on their booked trips to Lebanon.
Things in Lebanon are getting tense again. Even though the political crisis seems to have taken a course you would expect from a democratic and stable country, a different issue has emerged. Following a bank robbery, heavy clashes have taken place between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam, an organization based in a Palestinian camp in Tripoli, which is suspected to be linked to fundamental Islamic terrorism. A few hours later a car bomb exploded in the mainly Christian area of Ashrafiyeh in Beirut, fuelling speculation that a lot of the terrorist attacks witnessed in Lebanon, might be the work not of the different Lebanese factions but of Fatah al-Islam. We advise anyone visiting Lebanon to avoid Tripoli and all areas near Palestinian camps.
Despite the efforts to settle Lebanon's political crisis the situation remains without a solution. We have asked countless ordinary Lebanese people on our visits there what the future holds for the country and inevitably the answer we got is that nobody knows. What we can say, however, is despite obvious problems life in Beirut and the Faraya Mzaar area goes on almost as usual. We are continuing to run our ski trips to Faraya Mzaar and advise our customers visiting Beirut to stick to predefined programs and keep in touch with us or our people there.
February 14, the anniversary of the killing of Raffik Harriri, Lebanon's former Prime Minister has been declared by the government ass a day of national mourning. Government offices and possibly quite a few private businesses will be closed. A gathering is to take place in Martyr's Square in Solidere. As the government critics are still staging a sit in demonstration there it is unclear what the situation will be there. It is advisable not to be in the vicinity of Downtown Beirut during that day.
Life in Beirut has returned to normality again. All schools and universities have reopened without any incidents. Among other initiatives to resolve Lebanon's political crisis, the Arab League's envoys have returned to Beirut. The dialogue by intermediary has restarted and although publicly no change in position had been declared, no report of what happens behind the scenes has surfaced.
The Arab League chief is scheduling a return trip to Birut to facilitate negotiations between the two sides in Lebanon's crisis. Both sides appear to realize how destructive clashes between their supporters can be and are attempting to keep the situation calm. Although the sit in continues in Beirut's Central District no confrontations are reported. The Lebanese Army, acting as a police force, has taken strong steps in controlling possible flare ups in Beirut.
The first signs of significant unrest are surfacing in Beirut. Although calls for calm have come from Lebanon's leaders, violence is rearing its ugly head. If you have scheduled a trip to Beirut with Varianos Travel please contact us.
In typical Lebanese like style Beirut has returned to an uneasy normality after a day of unrest. Having exhibited its disruptive capability the opposition has called off the strike that brought Lebanon to a stand still. Although both sides remain entrenched in their positions they both claim to be open to dialogue. At this point we do not feel there is any significant danger to tourists but we urge visitors to Beirut to check on the situation on a daily basis and keep alert of warning signals in the media.
The forces calling for parliamentary elections have stepped up their actions against the Government and causes Lebanon into paralysis. Beirut has seen several of its main roads cut off to traffic by demonstrators burning tires. Lebanon's Rafic Harriri airport, although operational is seeing almost all flights to and from cancelled due to the blocked roads. The army has stepped in to quell riots between supporters of opposing sides and has extinguished all fires. Efforts are under way to clear up the roads and restore traffic.
The anti government coalition is calling for a general one day strike in Lebanon for this coming Tuesday. It is likely, however, that this will not be a full out strike as groups sympathetic to the government are calling for workers not to join the strike. The eagerly awaited Arab league initiative is not yet visible but hopes are present that it will resurface and lead the way to a solution to Lebanon's political crisis.
Lebanon had a calm and orderly holiday season. Behind the scenes actions by third parties have not yet resolved the political impasse that mars the country. The opposition to the government has decided to increase its level of protests by staging demonstrations outside more public buildings. The Solidere area is not the hotspot attraction it was before the demonstrations and both Beirutis and tourists find areas like Hamra and Monot more inviting for shopping and fun. Our tourist activities continue for both Beirut and the Faraya Mzaar ski area.
The Arab League's chief Amr Moussa has ended his mediation efforts to find a way out of Lebanon's political crisis. It is expected that the League's efforts will resume after the holidays but it is unlikely that a solution to the problem will be found any time soon. The rift between the two opposing sides in Lebanon remains and it is unclear what concessions either side is willing to make. The sit in at Solidere is continuing but all protests have been civil and some business in the area are operating.
It has been reported that a proposal by the Arab League for ending Lebanon's political crisis is being seen by the opposing sides as a renewed starting point for dialogue.
Two rallies with completely different aims were held in Lebanon on Sunday, December 10. Beirut's witnessed a massive demonstration in the Central Business District organized by the anti government faction. Tripoli saw also a very big rally from pro government supporters asking for the resignation of President Lahoud. Both gatherings were peaceful with no confrontations between people holding opposing views.
The side opposing Prime Minister Siniora's Government has pledged to continue and intensify the demonstration's until the Government resigns and a parliamentary election is scheduled. Despite the recent killing of a demonstrator and a few unrest incidents the situation is controlled by the country's security authorities. Several attempts have been made to find a way out of this political crisis but for the moment none has been successful.
Life does go on in Beirut but several shops and restaurants remain closed, particularly in the Beirut Central District where the big sit in demonstration is held. We recommend to our customers visiting Beirut to make sure they know where they want to go and arrange for trustworthy transport if they are moving by vehicle. We feel foreigners have nothing to fear in Lebanon but it is best to avoid getting lost. As mentioned previously transfers within Beirut might take longer than usual.
The opposition to the ruling parties holding power in the Government of Lebanon are staging a sit in the Central Business District of Beirut. The demonstration is peaceful and is supposed to last until the Government of Prime Minister Siniora resigns and calls for new elections. The Government insists that this will not happen. It is unclear how this political crisis will be resolved. It is advisable not to visit the Solidere area where the sit in protest is taking place. Depending on your destination, transfers in Beirut might take more time than usual.
Minister Pierre Gemayel killing is the latest chapter on the book of murders of prominent politicians in Lebanon. Although all Lebanese faction's leaders have condemned the murder and urged their supporters to use restraint in their actions, it is possible that some violent situations might occur. If you will be in Beirut in the next few days please use caution and avoid areas where large gatherings are scheduled.
The rally scheduled for November 13 was postponed. A number of ministers have resigned from the government creating a political deadlock but the situation remains stable and calm. We anticipate that the political dialogue will resume at a later stage but the process will not be short.
The situation in Lebanon remains stable. The intracommunal dialogue for the future of Lebanon continues with its highs and lows. As the dialogue meetings are at the Beirut Central District, expect heavy security in the area with a lot of shops in the Solidere area keeping irregular hours. A rally might be held in Beirut on November 13. Although the Lebanese government is taking precautions for a safe and peaceful demonstration if it takes place, we feel it is inadvisable to be in Beirut during that day.
We have just returned from a short trip to Beirut and the Faraya Mzaar ski area. We are happy to announce that we will be fully resuming our trips to Lebanon and particularly our ski holiday packages to Faraya Mzaar within the next few weeks.
You have been asking us if it is safe to go back to Lebanon as a tourist and after our visit we can tell you the following:
It is surprising how little a tourists eyes can see a difference between the pre war situation and now. The two most noticeable differences were the changed landing approach of our plane in Beirut airport and the increased congestion in some of the roads. It is 100% true that someone taking a ski vacation to Faraya Mzaar will enjoy the same level of satisfaction as last year.
Our everyday interactions during this latest trip with regular people, showed a genuine happiness on their part of seeing foreigners, and Cypriots in particular, returning to Lebanon. It is evident that the Lebanese people are worried about the future of their country but this takes nothing away from their traditional hospitality and level of service.
We do feel that with the firm establishment of the UN forces in the South of Lebanon the chances of something negative happening have fallen drastically. Even if something were to happen, in our opinion, the chances of our customers being negatively affected would be minimal. We do urge you, however, to examine the possibility of going to Lebanon on your own and take a decision based on your understanding of the situation.
As of today we have started offering selected short packages to Beirut from Larnaca. We are optimistic that the situation will continue to remain stable and we will be able to offer our ski trips to Lebanon as usual.
Both Cyprus Airways and Middle East airlines have announced resumption of daily flights between Larnaca and Beirut. The continuing peace and the messages we get from Lebanon make us optimistic that it will be safe again to run tours to this lovely country. We plan to personally inspect the situation and then we will be announcing our packages to Beirut for the rest of 2006 and our ski holiday breaks for Faraya Mzaar in 2007.
August 21, 2006
As peace and reason seem to be prevailing over the madness the whole world witnessed in Lebanon, we are re-evaluating the situation on travel to the land of the Phoenicians. For the moment the only way to get to Beirut by air is through Amman but we hope this will change in the near future. As soon as direct flights between Larnaca and Beirut are reinstated we will post it on our web site. At this point in time we will not be running tours to Lebanon but will be offering packages to Beirut for our business customers. As the situation is yet not stable enough we feel the time is not yet right for tourism to Lebanon. We will reconsider this when the enhanced UN force is deployed in Southern Lebanon and a significant amount of time has passed without negative incidents.
Although the blow to Lebanon's infrastructure has been severe the winter tourism industry has not fared badly. The Faraya Mzaar ski resort has not been damaged and the road up the mountain has stayed clear all the time. The airport should be fully operational in a short time and all the hotels we use in Beirut and North of it are operational. What will need more time is the electrical power situation and you should also expect longer traffic delays. Unfortunately the beach resort situation in Lebanon is unclear and this is where the largest problem the country's tourism faces. Archaeological sites have not been damaged but a report mentioned some destruction in the Baalbeck ruins. It is also likely that tours to Sidon and Tyre will be requiring extra traveling time.
As soon as peace and normality take a hold over life in Lebanon we are sure that Beirut will become again a magnet for tourists. The ancient Greeks in their wisdom could not have picked a more appropriate symbolism to the Phoenix bird for the people of Lebanon. With the ashes gone we intend to be the first offering holidays to the reborn Lebanon.
July 18, 2006
It is with great sadness that we bring this new web page to our website. The Lebanon we knew and loved has changed. And this change is not the usual progressive improvement that our Lebanese friends have made us used to. It is rather a change that reminds us of things we had thought we would never see again in this lovely country. As the situation is right now we have no choice but to cancel all tours and packages to Lebanon we were offering. All customers having booked through us can get full refund on the packages they have bought from us. If you have not yet contacted us on this matter, please do so at your convenience.
Despite our worries for our friends and the people in Lebanon, it is with satisfaction that we note that all our customers that had been in Beirut at the start of the Israeli bombings have arrived in their homes safely. With the help of our partners in Lebanon and Syria our customers were transported to Damascus airport early on Thursday, July 13 before the destruction of the motorway linking Beirut with the Damascus border. We wish to thank our partners in the Levant for their professionalism during these difficult times and also the Ministry of the Exterior of the Republic of Cyprus for evacuating most of the Cypriots from Lebanon and arranging a free repatriation flight from Damascus airport.
For those of you that do not know the principals behind Varianos Travel, I would like to say that working with Lebanon, and particularly arranging skiing and holiday packages to Beirut and Faraya Mzaar, has been a labor of love. Sure we made a profit by this but it was work we enjoyed doing and it always was a pleasure making the short trip from Larnaca airport here in Cyprus to Beirut. We intend to offer again holiday packages to Lebanon as soon as the security situation allows it.
Embassy of Cyprus in Beirut, Lebanon - M N C Building Debbas Street, Rmeil-Achrafieh, Beirut,, Lebanon. Tel.: + 961 1 329500 ext. 101, Emergency: 00961 71559500 (after office hours), Fax: + 961 1 326471, Ε-mail: email@example.com,
Embassy of India in Beirut, Lebanon - 31, Kantari Street, Sahmarani Building, P.O. Box No. 113-5240 (Hamra) & 11-1764 Beirut, Lebanon. Tel: (961-1) 353892. Fax: (961-1) - 869806. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Embassy of Indonesia in Beirut, Lebanon - 1st Floor, Al Mubarak Bld. Sector 8, Rue 69, Bir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, P.O. Box. 136612 Shouran, Beirut. Tel: (961-1) - 840700. Fax: (961-1) - 840700.
Embassy of Pakistan in Beirut, Lebanon - 11th Floor, Shell Building, Australia Street, Rouche Beirut. P.O. Box No.135506. Tel: (961-1) - 863 041, 806638. Fax: (961-1) - 864583.
Embassy of Poland in Beirut, Lebanon - Rue Sourati, imm. Nassif, Beirut BP 3667. Tel: (961) - 345278, 345279.
General Consulate of Singapore in Beirut, Lebanon - HHorsh Karam - President Elias Sarkis Avenue Joseph Habis Building, Beirut Lebanon. Tel: 001-(961-1) - 200783. Fax: 001- (961-1) - 201158.
Consulate of Costa Rica in Beirut, Lebanon - P. O. Box 113-6481 Beirut, Lebanon. Tel: (961) 580-0772. Fax: (961) - 5800775.
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