(My Middle East)

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

Posts Tagged ‘flight

In Beirut, 36 hours later

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I finally arrived in Beirut this morning after what I thought would be a grueling 36hrs of traveling, that ended up being actually not that bad. The 12 hour leg from Dulles in D.C. to Doha, Qatar went by relatively quickly I got to watch 3 movies which rated out of 5 were Frost Nixon (2.5), Transporter 3 (2) and The Express (3.75).

When I got to Doha at 630 p.m. I prepared to hunker down for a 13 hour layover
, but was pleasantly surprised to find a hotel was booked for me free of charge with dinner included.

A bus took me to downtown Doha (looks kinda cool but very boring) and to the Movenpick Hotel.

The Beautiful Movenpick hotel

The Beautiful Movenpick hotel

The Hotel was incredible, especially for a free one. There were 2 beds, with down comforters, a kitchen with granite counter tops, spot lit lighting a glass desk and a large marble bathroom (which included a speaker feeding from the TV, so you didn’t miss a word).

For my free dinner it was a very extravagant hotel buffet , I sampled all the exotic salads (including white bean and turkish salad) and dined on the braised lamb leg, the chicken kabob and the seared cauliflower, and then I sampled a selection of 8 cakes and other confections.

In all it was a $150 value all courtesy of the Doha international airport.

In Beirut
I arrived in Beirut at 11 a.m. and had to figure out how to get to the diner I was to meet my friend Brian Pellot at. The taxi drivers pounced on a lost looking white boy (myself) and made negotiating a fee very difficult. After some bargaining, I got in a beat up cab with its plates and cab stickers in its rear window.

The cab driver had more going wrong than just missing plates, on the way out he stopped at the police check point and gave a young looking officer 2 sandwiches and 2 pepsis, which he promptly informed me were his bribe for being allowed in the taxi line. Which a coordinator for the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections told me was a fitting welcome to Beirut.

I finally made it to the Euro cafe where I met Brian (who was my roommate last summer for the journalism program in Egypt and Oman). We went to have lunch with one of his friend from LADE, which was great for me to start getting my bearings and figure out this incredibly complex political landscape.

Brian and I then walked around the AUB campus, which is amazing, and includes a rec facility swimming pool and private beach. and then caught a taxi downtown to meet Deen Sharp, a British journalist and freelancer for numerous magazines in Beirut. He among other things specializes in architecture writing, a niche that he says he has carved out for himself in Beirut. We had a beer (the local Almaza) at Cafe 43′ a cool hidden cafe that you had to knock to enter in Gemmayzeh a more affluent east Beirut district.

That is only half of my first day but Pizza Hut is about to kick us out so more to come tomorrow.

Ma Salama.

Written by stephenddockery

May 22, 2009 at 9:04 pm

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