It’s a typical Friday night in Beirut and, should you find yourself in Lebanon’s capital of two million people, your calendar might include partaking in a feminist reading group, eating a Sri Lankan dinner at a pay-what-you-want community restaurant, attending a queer benefit party for Syrian artisans, or getting limber in a body-positive yoga class.
In the past five years, Beirut has appeared on numerous “Best Cities” lists and has been the subject of many a New York Times and Travel & Leisure guide. Because of the city’s multicultural history and liberal atmosphere, Beirut has also been touted as the Middle East’s best destination for female travelers. While highlighting the recent entrepreneurial uptick and increasing inclusion in global circulations of arts and culture, these guides have failed to mention the local activists, organizations, and business owners who have helped to place Beirut on the traveler’s map. This guide outlines sites of culture, food, and heritage preservation led by female-identifying, queer, and gender non-conforming trailblazers dedicated to making Beirut a more inclusive city and preserving its unique history and traditions.