On a recent visit to Lebanon, I was given a countrywide tour of the corporate incentive options available to meeting planners, courtesy of Lebanon-based corporate incentive and travel management company - gatewaylebanon.net.
It appeared to me that the ethos of the company reflected the vibrancy of the destination in that ‘anything is possible in Lebanon’. This included visiting some of the country’s ancient historical sites and being made aware that they could be used for MICE purposes. Coming from Europe this brought into question the ethics related to using places of great historical significance, for the purposes of securing the ultimate ‘wow’ factor for an event.
For me it seemed so refreshing that in a world where ‘political correctness’ regularly goes OTT, there are still places, where such edifices, that have been standing for millennia can be used to encourage business into the country and as importantly breath life into a site that has seen the passing of time and civilizations since Phoenician times.
A case in point is the UNESCO World Heritage site of 'Baalbek' in the fertile 'Bekaa Valley', probably Lebanon’s foremost historical attraction and an awe-inspiring spectacle. Parts of the remains of the gargantuan ‘Temple of Jupiter’ are six of the world’s tallest Roman Columns standing proud at 23 metres. They peer down upon the smaller yet magnificently preserved ‘Temple of Bacchus’, one of the best examples of its kind anywhere in the world.
It is within the ‘Temple of Bacchus’ that the globally-renowned ‘Beirut International Music Festival’ takes place annually. In previous years, the ancient temple walls have reverberated to the sounds of Lebanon’s famous singer ‘Fairuz’, Ella Fitzgerald and Mika; sustaining a sequence of ceremonies that have taken place since the buildings titanic foundation stones were laid. This also provides precedent and credence for other events being held here…maybe even yours!
For those who may still seem uneasy using such a site for an event, the nearby 19th century Palmyra Hotel overlooks the Baalbek ruins, which can be admired from their courtyard. If preferred the Beirut Mövenpick Hotel snd Resort (the only resort hotel in the capital) can provide a boot camp incentive on their private beach and in their Olympic-sized pool, which is sure to settle any disputes!