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WINTER 2011I sea&iI49cityguideAbove:the famousPigeon Rocks of RaouchéOpposite page: Le Gray's Indigo on the Roof restaurantoverlooks the cityAmid tough competition, Beirut is emerging as thejewel of the Middle East. Echoing Paris' chic style, it is aneminently glamorous, exciting and enticing destinationByKate RigbyArabian lightbeirutAdecade and a half of conflict may have left anindelible mark on Beirut, but despite itsturbulent heritage this Middle Eastern cityand capital of Lebanon has beaten the odds toemerge as a high-profile travel destination that is fun, beautiful,sexy and vibrant.Strung along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Beirut iscaught between two cultures, dipping a toe in both Arabic andEuropean camps. With a history dating back more than 5,000years, and a democratic, forward-thinking Government, it is themost fashionable of all the Arabian cities. Fondly cited as theParis of the Middle East, the city has undergone a significanttransformation in recent years. Its landscape was pockmarkedby the civil war of 1975 to 1990, but this war-torn façade hasstamped the city with something of an edgy charm, and alongwith the glamorously poised rooftop pools of the five-starhotels and the designer boutiques luxuriating way belowthem, Beirut exudes a fashionablyfun frissance. The shoppingis excellent, fashion shows strut alongside classical concerts andworld-class theatre,Phoenician ruins merge with vibrant newwater parks, and 300 days of sunshine every year mean all thiscan be enjoyed in the perfect climate.PILLOW TALKIf classy hotels are a barometer of a city's style, Beirut isscorchinghot. One of the key players is the Four Seasons HotelBeirut, fresh from its opening in January 2010. Ten years in theplanning, the hotel has hospitality spot on with a service thatreflects the vibrant and welcoming spirit of the country. All 230rooms and suites have large terraces, there is a marble andgold mosaic spa and a team of concierges with expertknowledge of the city's 5,000 years of cultural attractions.?