Lying fat and silky beneath the Mediterranean sun, Beirut is an oasis of prosperity in the Arab Middle East.
Tiny Lebanon's flamboyant capital sprouts new buildings like palm trees, boasts more Mercedeses than mullahs, lures thousands of tourists and happily shares its year-round sunshine with courtesans in bikinis as well as desert Arabs in burnooses. But Beirut's most beneficent climate is the climate of trade, the heritage of its Phoenician forebears. In the Levantine landscape nothing seems to grow faster or greener than the city's banks.
Beirut is the world's newest...