(My Middle East)

77 days with a journalist, Lebanon, and a list of non sequiturs

Archive for April 2009

Beirut Bound (Finally)

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Drug wars in the Bekaa valley? The first elections since Syrian withdrawal? Things are looking up for my internship in Lebanon. I booked my ticket yesterday to Beirut with a steal

Gunmen kill four army soldiers in Bekaa Valley

Gunmen kill four army soldiers in Bekaa Valley

from priceline.com.  I head out on May 20th arrive on the 22nd and return to D.C. on August 8th.

Unfortunetly Leading up to the internship wasn’t quite as smooth as I had expected:

January 14 – January 31 :  The Daily Star is closed down by the Lebanese government after a court order was issued because of financial troubles. 

I thought I was up  a creek when this went down given the state papers are in these days . When I asked for advice from an Arab media expert who works in Egypt,  heres what he had to say:

” While they have been having economic problems for a long time, this appears to be political. The court suddenly decided to enforce an old judgment and there is reason to believe this is because someone else wants the paper’s license, which is valuable. But I wouldn’t bet my summer on it getting resolved.”

I heard rumors that Lebanese police or soldiers were sent to the paper. Fortunately the paper opened back up in February and has been publishing daily ever since. Crisis avoided. 

April 7 : The editor who gave me the internship no longer works at the newspaper. After several unanswered emails I finally get my act together and give The Daily Star a call. Turns out the managing editor Marc Sirois has left the paper.  Fortunately when I call back the new managing editor, Kristin Dailey, is incredibly nice and says everything is OK with the job. Only small problem now, the receptionist spoke a whole lot of French and little English, which means I’m going to have to brush up on my French (as in learn star to learn some).

Now thats all behind me, things are looking up. I booked my flight on
Qatar Airways
 which I’ve heard good things about.  And any Arab airline always beats American when it comes to hospitality, at least in my limited experience.

 

Heres my itinerary: 

 

May 20:

Departs  Dulles Intl (IAD)  –  10:40 P.M

Arrives  Doha – 6:30 P.M  (12h  50m , 6908mi)

Departs  Doha – 7:55 A.M (the next day)

Arrives Beirut May 22 – 11:00 A.M   (3h  5m , 1130mi) 

77 days

August 7: 

 Departs Beirut – 12:00 P.M

Arrives Doha – 2:45 P.M  (2h  45m , 1130mi)

Departs Doha – 9:00 A.M (the next day) 

Arrives IAD  May 8  – 4:20 P.M  (14h  20m , 6908mi)

Written by stephenddockery

April 22, 2009 at 9:11 am