It was the time to go back to Dubai after a week in London, for rest and some business.
Our jet had to stop at a Mediterranean airport to refuel.
There were five of us passengers: two UAE compatriots, two friends from , and me. We discussed available options to stop and refuel. So, where would we land?
Well, it was Beirut that came to mind first. That wasn’t without reason. The famous city had always captured imagination. It had played a remarkable role in shaping conscience. My suitcases still breathe the city’s pine scent. Images of its neighbourhoods have remained in memory ever since like sweet dreams.
It was Beirut then and the question was open to discussion among companions on the trip.
The date: 06/02/2007.
Beirut was undergoing heavy internal struggles. Confrontations between regional and international powers covered the city with smoke and black clouds. Different fronts filled the scene with demonstrations, counter demonstrations, protests from both sides and threatening political statements that were sufficient to start up an intra-state war not only a civil war.
The place: a space for discussion between love and adoration, sorrow and pain, hope and despair, fear and awe.
We decided not to land in Beirut. And it no longer mattered where to land. The question became an insignificant detail.
Avoiding communicating our feelings through eye-contact, our eyes were looking anywhere but at each other. No one wanted to betray his adoration of the city that had a suicidal harshness against itself. No other city had showed such self-destructing tendencies like Beirut.
So we could not land in Beirut, everyone agreed. But in the sky, memory went back to the morning haze of Bhamdoon, the snow-crowned cedars of Marya, Tripoli, the history in Baalbak, the sea of civilizations of Sidon, and the tobacco farms of the South.
Can a human being be afraid of his history and childhood memories? Can he or she be reluctant to recall the experiences of past years? Or can he or she sever from their past neighbours, friends and playmates?
Can a country be harsh against its lovers as is? Can a people be so unfair to their country like the Lebanese are?
What are you doing? I’m asking you all without taking the side of any party, only your country.
What are you doing to this Oriental gem, this Mediterranean pearl, this Arab jewel?
What are you doing with the mermaid, the spring’s breaths, water flows, the snow lanterns, your warm emotions, the spontaneous Lebanese generosity, your Arab traditions and hospitality and your eyes’ joy?
What have you been doing? Once, you were our pride, our joy, you showed us elegance, you wrote our books and our newspapers, you worked in our hospitals and our universities, your country was our travel destination, our oasis, our resting place and where we found peace.
We, the Gulf people, were proud of your savvy people, with their sophisticated culture, their metropolitan environment, their lovely habits, their logic, their openness, their love for both one another and their homeland and their overwhelming attachment to their country’s history and honour.
We need to retain this feeling towards you.
We want you to be entrusted again with our pride, confidence and love. And we will not spare any effort to support you. Your pains are ours. Will you wake up, regain control over your destiny and give the utmost priority to the interests of your country?
How far are you now from your past? I’m asking as a partner, your lover and your country.
I tried to figure out why on earth the Lebanese are doing such harm to their country. Well, I confess that I couldn’t. I failed to have any justification for this havoc; this blighting described by a prominent poet as the gate of paradise.
However, I will not contend that this has been done by the Lebanese themselves.
God has entrusted the Lebanese with this heavenly gift, human heritage, and natural miracle. There is no reason to do what you are doing now.
The Lebanese have reached the lowest point in their history. Unemployment is rampant, Arab and international investors are leaving, factories and even restaurants are closing, maybe permanently, causing crowds of unemployed victimised by poverty.
Migration has become the buzzword among hundreds of thousands of Lebanese who bring their pains and despair with them to anywhere in the world.
Don’t they deserve some time to think about the current situation? Don’t they deserve to recall your deep rooted national feelings, to regain your honourable past? You were among the first who demonstrated that homeland is the synonym of integrity, honour and pride.
Give the opportunity to live, to be an oasis for our world. Go back and amicably and open-mindedly discuss your differences inside your constitutional establishments, your inclusive parliament, your multilateral government which is meant to serve people, not the other way.
Go back to constructive dialogue, a unified stand and logical resonance. There is no alternative to one , one Lebanese people.
Differences, no matter how deep they are, should be minor issues when homeland is under threat. Politics usually become insignificant when national sovereignty is at stake.
All losses are neglected when the loss of your nation is looming.
You are required to have some mercy for , your sons and daughters, your seniors, and your youth.
Deny your enemies the opportunity to celebrate your blight. Try to mitigate your friends’ fears.
No one needs to assure me about your love for your country. But what is going on now endangers even the national survival of your . Every one should stop for a moment and reconsider his stand, even make concessions if necessary. No one needs to be ashamed of concession in favour of the nation.
No one should be victorious or a loser vis-à-vis his or her nation. The real longed for victory is ’s unity and integrity.
Leave your assumed ditches to the daylight. Go beyond the walls of disengagement and hostility.
We need to extend our hands to each other, not on each other. Think of your country’s blights. This is your only possible solution.