Inside the Middle East explores Beirut

Beirut: The "Paris of the Middle East"

Story highlights

  • IME discovers why Lebanon's capital is such a popular choice among expatriates
  • Arwa Damon talks to a female population in pursuit of better women's rights
  • Hit Lebanese rock band Mashrou'Laila talks to IME about their popular music
This month, Inside the Middle East travels to Beirut, the cosmopolitan, multi-lingual capital of Lebanon. Beirut's popularity among expatriate residents has not waned, despite the increased fears of instability spilling over from the conflict in neighboring Syria. Host Arwa Damon explores Beirut, discovering why the "Paris of the Middle East" is so appealing to foreign residents of the city.
Expats may be flocking to Beirut, but not everyone is welcome. Many economic migrants in Beirut struggle with racism on a daily basis. Lebanon's minister of tourism says the country has implemented a zero-tolerance policy towards racism -- but Damon finds out why it's going to take more than legislation to change the attitude of the Lebanese.
We also explore the rights of women in Lebanon, a nation traditionally known for its tolerance towards the opposite sex. Women's rights activists say they have a false sense of freedom. There are few laws in Lebanon protecting women from domestic abuse and hardly any representation in parliament, but some Lebanese women are now demanding change.
Finally, the program meets the alternative rock band Mashrou' Laila, a group of seven 20-somethings living in Beirut. Mashrou' Laila has become a major hit in Lebanon by taking on taboo topics in their music, singing about everything from politics to homosexuality.
Wednesday February 6: 1030, 1730; Saturday February 9: 0530, 1930; Sunday February 10: 1330; Saturday February 16: 1330; Sunday February 17: 0530, 1930