Lebanon boasts a vibrant art scene, both traditional and contemporary.
The national dance – the dabke – is an energetic folk dance. Classic belly-dancing continues to play an important role during in weddings – symbolizing the transition from the virginity of a fiancée to the sensuality of a wife – and is also highly appreciated in nightclubs. In an astonishing ballet, the Caracalla interweaves Eastern and Western dance and music.
Traditional Arabic music is made of disharmonic melodies and complex rhythms, often accompanied by sophisticated, multi-layered singing. The instruments used include the ud, a pear shaped string instrument, the tablah, a percussive instrument made of clay, wood or metal and hide, the nay, a simple open-ended reed flute that produces a lovely, very gentle sound, and the qanun, a flat, trapezoidal instrument with at least 81 strings to pluck.
Literature and poetry have always held a dominant position in Lebanese culture. One of its most popular forms of poetry is zajal, in which a group of poets begins a spirited dialogue, singing improvised verses. The most famous figure from Lebanese literature is Khalil Gibran, a 19th century poet, author and artist whose work explores Christian mysticism. The country’s contemporary authors include Amin Maalouf, Emily Nasrallah and Hanan Al-Shaykh.
Theatre: Going to the theatre can help you to familiarize yourself with Lebanese culture. Comedies are the most popular. Shows in English and French are rare but not non-existent.