The Lebanese Stereotypes

I wasn’t even planning to write this article this soon (certainly not before writing the Stereotypes of bigger nations like France, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Canada, Australia… etc)… why am I writing this article so soon? It is simply because I am on vacation and I am in Lebanon.

So I came to Lebanon yesterday, I had a lovely trip, the seat to my left was empty, and on the one next to it (i.e. window seat) sat a lady in her 30s or 40s from Bangladesh who had been working in Lebanon for 15 years and spoke Arabic very fluently (we still have tourists, YES… nope, not really). I watched “Delivery Man”, a very funny movie. The Etihad cabin crew were sweet and sexy and made my trip lovely by accidentally bumping my shoulder with their firm asses; a bonus service which I really appreciated. My trip was perfect, we arrived to Beirut Airport 10 minutes early and there was no Queue on the arrivals security check and the baggage arrived immediately.

5 minutes after leaving Beirut Airport, my perfect trip came to an end, we got stuck in a traffic Jam in “Ghobeiry”. The traffic jam was caused by a security check on the Airport road.

My dad, speaking in Arabic to one man in the Lebanese Army, after we were stuck in traffic for about 30 minutes:

شو بتنصحنا يا وطن؟

What do you advise us to do “ya watan”?

Military Man:

بنصحك تضلك بالبيت

I advise you to stay at home

My dad:

ابني جايي من السفر, منتركو بالمطار؟

My son has just arrived from abroad, shall we leave him waiting in the Airport?

Military man:

من وين انتو؟

Where are you from?

My dad:

من الجبل

From the mountain

Military Man:

تفضل من هون

Please move forward from here

The military guy had saved us around 30 minutes of traffic. After that, we had to wait around 1 and half hours, during which we saw around 10 beggars, most of them children in the age of 6 to 13, and two older ladies carrying small babies.

2 hours were enough to remind me of the Lebanese horror story and this is not a story like “the American Horror story”, it isn’t about ghosts, witches and dead people. It is a story about poverty, chaos, fear from violence from the outlaws, religious discrimination, corruption, injustice, selfishness, militias and a war zone… a place where there are many rules, many laws, but no-one capable of enforcing these laws. This is the story of my people, the descendants of the Phoenicians, the traders in purple.

So this one is different… This article is not about how the world sees us “Lebanese”, but it is how “I”, a Lebanese who has suffered in the fires of Lebanon, see my people, The Lebanese People.

The population of Lebanon is less than 5 million people (less than 0.1 % of the world’s population) and you would think that no one had heard about the Lebanese people. “The Lebanese Horror Story” started decades ago, so the Lebanese have been immigrating since the early 18 hundreds. This means that people from Lebanese origin living outside Lebanon exceed the population of the Lebanese who still live in Lebanon to our date and hence, the Lebanese reputation vastly exceeds the geographical and demographic presence of the Lebanese citizens who currently reside in Lebanon.

Lebanese girls stereotypes

are they beautiful?

The strongest Stereotype associated with the Lebanese girls is one about their beauty. 

Beautiful Lebanese Girl

Beautiful Lebanese Girl
From Flickr, User: ItzaFineDay
original: http://flic.kr/p/iiuUZ

Stranger: Where are you from?

Me: Lebanon

Stranger: Ohhhh… Lebanon, a beautiful country with beautiful women.

It is true, the Lebanese girls are so beautiful and my conversations with non-Lebanese aren’t the only trigger for this stereotype. Here is a video from the first episode of the first season of “How I met your mother” where Barney Stinson speaks about Lebanese girls. This is just one of many series/movies/songs where Lebanese girls are mentioned.

are they slutty?

Lebanon is the least conservative country in the Middle East and North African region (this excludes Israel, which is in many ways different than the MENA region). So how does the rest of the more strict / more religious MENA region see the Lebanese actresses and singers? How do they see the general public, the Lebanese youth who love life, love clubbing and love their freedom… Let’s just be polite and say “too Liberated”.

so Is true? Are the Lebanese girls slutty?

Certainly not. Lebanon, by the Western / European / American standards, would probably be considered  very conservative and it is a tough journey for most guys to lure a Lebanese girl into their bed.

Lebanese men stereotypes

Most non-Lebanese girls I’ve met said two things about Lebanese guys:

1- Handsome: Lebanese guys are good looking and are often in good shape (visit the gym enough to maintain a good body form).

2- Playboys: Lebanese guys are womanizers.

I am not going to judge the first point, being a straight male disqualifies me from judging the looks of Lebanese guys, yet,  judging from the behavior of most of my male Lebanese friends and acquaintances, yes, most Lebanese guys are womanizers.

Lebanese can sell you anything

Is it really surprising? again, we are the descendants of the Phoenicians, the traders in purple, the traders of the Mediterranean sea.

Racism

Many Lebanese people living in Lebanon are incredibly racist and most of them are unaware of it.

The most prominent form of racism is that against the poor labor class in Lebanon which is predominantly from Asian or African origin.

Lebanese housewive 1: I am so tiered from work I don’t even have time to sleep.

Lebanese housewive 2 would respond by saying (get a maid)… or something as racist as: get a Sri lankan girl / get a Filipina girl /get an Ethiopian girl

Since when did the nationality of a human determine his profession?

Here is another form of racism foreign workers endure during their stay in Lebanon, just watch these videos:

Luckily, most families (at least I hope so) do treat their maids properly. However, for some other less fortunate maids, the extent of abuse doesn’t end in racial discrimination, it only begins there. Maids leave the poverty of their own country with hopes to support their families. They usually come from rural areas in poor countries like Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Sadly, these maids experience another form of torture in Lebanon, they face physical and verbal abuse. The sad part is that the laws in Lebanon can’t be even enforced to protect its own citizens; let alone protect a poor laborer coming from poorer countries.

The Lebanese English Accent

Here is what Russel Peters has to say about his Lebanese experience,

here is what he got right:

  • The Arabic accent, in general, is a thick one and many Arabic people (including some Lebanese) pronounce the “P” as “B”
  • Some Lebanese love exaggerating their Lebanese experience and habitually undermine other’s achievements (example, Dubai’s Achievements).

Here is what he got wrong:

  • The Lebanese education system and English literacy is quite good (compared to countries having English as a foreign Language),  so  educated people can easily pronounce “P” and “B” correctly despite the lack of the letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet.

The Lebanese typical character

A typical Lebanese character is one that is similar to the Mediterranean character (Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy… )

  • love living in fashion and in style
  • superficial and materialistic, i.e. a  Lebanese would prioritize luxury over practicality and living in now rather than planning for the future
  • Lebanese love to party and are often described as “party animals”. Below is a video, by Richard Quest on CNN, highlighting the night life in Beirut and it also describes the Lebanese way of life, “Live this day and we will worry about tomorrow”

Lebanese are too proud, blindly proud

here is a typical video from a typical proud Lebanese

Just a word of caution, this is the biggest lie that a Lebanese would tell you… “In Lebanon, you can swim and ski on the same day

here is why it is a lie:

1 – The ski season in Lebanon is in the cold/ rainy season, December to March but due to global warming, it is raining and snowing less in Lebanon Year-to-Year and the ski resorts in Lebanon are closed throughout many days of our cold/ rainy season.

2- During the cold/rainy season, the temperature on our mountains ranges from -10 to 10 degrees centigrade and the temperature in our beaches ranges from 5 to 20 degrees and the water is freezing cold. So unless you love freezing to death, you cannot swim and ski on the same day.

Lebanese expats are usually talented and are frequently successful

Tony ShalhoubSalma Hayek and Shakira are just few of many celebrities from Lebanese origins who made it to fame. Few days ago I was watching this video on Youtube:

This beautiful girl with the lovely voice looked so “Lebanese like”, so I went further to do some research (stalking). I found out that she is Brazilian and her name is “Luciana Zogbi”. Zogbi is a Lebanese family name and there are around 8 million Brazilians of Lebanese origin; though i couldn’t actually confirm that this girl is of Lebanese origin, I am pretty sure she is. What I am trying to say is that Lebanese are everywhere, thanks to how miserable life in Lebanon is and has been.

Update (October 18, 2014):

I can confirm that Luciana Zogbi is of Lebanese Origin. 

This is what she said on her Facebook page:

Luciana Zogbi is a 19 year old Brazilian/Lebanese singer/songwriter.

The ugly face of Lebanon

or should I say the ugly faces of Lebanon? Where do I start? Religions, wars, discrimination, hate, fear, corruption, politics, militias, weapons, outlaws, or unemployment? This part of the blog post is not only about stereotypes, so please bare with me as I speak out my heart.

  • All Lebanese political leaders from all religions and political parties are extremely corrupt and are driven solely by their personal interest and benefits.
  • Despite meeting lovely individuals and having friends from all areas and from all religions in Lebanon, most Lebanese are living in constant fear of “others”.
  • How can businesses thrive in the shadows of assassinations, civil wars, Israeli wars, suicide bombings and corruption? Unemployment is the reason why most Lebanese are leaving their country to make ends meet. 
  • Lebanon often seems like an ugly version of a religious “Game of Thrones”. A game of religious wars which are continuously fed by the ongoing political speech of hate and false accusation of treason.
  • Juristic ineffectiveness and  a group of corrupt governmental institutions castrated by a harmful political codependency. Most vile actions such as assassinations and civilian bombings are often attributed to Israel even when these political assassinations are ordered and executed by Lebanese or Syrian or Iranian leaderships.  Solid evidence is often dismissed due to lack of authority of the legal institutions.
  • Lack of hope for a better future. Lebanon is a political playground of the most dangerous region on earth… the middle east. The future of Lebanon is tied to the most complex problems in the world.
    1. The Arabic – Israeli conflict
    2. The balance of power between Russia, China, Iran, North korea vs United states, United Kingdom, France and the west.
    3. The ever lasting hate between the Shiite and Sunni Muslim sects.
  • Forest Arson and environmental destruction, Lebanese people often boast the natural beauty of Lebanon. It is a sad story… The Lebanese soil and its seas are turning into dumpsters. Forests which are centuries old are burning in a matter of few days ; the real estate is devouring whatever survives the fires. “Green Lebanon” is no longer green.

Who are we?

We are Christians, Sunni, Shia, Druze…

We are living each in his own religious kingdom…

We aren’t the descendants of the Phoenicians…

We aren’t Lebanese…

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