Thursday, July 27, 2006
SUN, SAND AND SHIITES
I used to occasionally frequent the Ramlet el Baida (‘’white sands’’) public beach in Beirut - the only public beach in Beirut and a magnet for the Shiite underclass.
Despite the clientele, this urban beach was a in a great location and, besides, no Shiite ever kicked sand in my face (to paraphrase Mohamed Ali’s ‘’no Vietcong ever killed me a nigger’’).
On the contrary, they’re quite friendly and, unlike Westerners, they’re very industrious at the beach – they frolic, play games, build sandcastles, picnic etc.
Just lying on the beach like decadent Westerners isn’t going to do it for these people in the little leisure they have in life.
Apart from a famous location (it’s on one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the Arab world), another attraction (for me anyway) of this beach is the clothed bathers – it’s not uncommon to see young women frolicking in the water in full body chadors or, for the more liberal among them, jeans and t-shirt.
Some of them have quite okay bodies and this shows those bodies off to the best advantage.
It’s basically like a full body wet t-shirt competition.
Although there aren’t that many young women to be found there – most of the beachgoers are young men, children and hajjis (usually much older women).
The ski fields in Lebanon are mainly a Maronite Christian preserve.
Although some British friends of mine were able to distinguish the odd smattering of what they called NSM (Non-Skiing Muslims) marvelling at this ‘’wet sand ‘’ amongst the majority hardcore SFM (Ski Fascist Maronites)
So, there you have it – Lebanese sectarianism even extends to leisure activities.