A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Ads and ends from the local paper

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 11, 2009

The news is awful again this morning – more than 60 strikes on Gaza overnight. Assuming an 8-hour night, that’s 7.5 per hour, or one every eight minutes. Do you think people there got any sleep? I don’t. I remember the bombings in south Beirut in 2006. My apartment was roughly one mile away, and the impact of each bomb still shook me – literally, lifted me up off my bed – when they hit their target.

So I’ll focus on lighter things, like a few of the advertisements that I have seen recently in the Daily Star.

Ace Hardware, which had been running ads on billboards near the Beirut port all spring, is now open:

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I think of Ace as a real down-home, old-school hardware store – a chain with the feel of a local, small-town shop. I wonder how this attitude is translating in Beirut – I can’t see many people walking in with the idea of taking on anything DIY, for example. Is the store focusing on contractors?

On the other hand, in one way I can see Ace fitting right in. When I went to college, there was an Ace in the next town – for about five minutes. It was closed by the parent company during my first month there – moved somewhere a bit more bustling, I think.

But the store lived on in local memory, because it was used heavily in direction-giving. As in, “Oh yes – shop X? Its right after the place where the hardware store was.” Typical New England direction-giving – and also typical Lebanese-style direction-giving. I can’t tell you the number of times the turn into my neighborhood was described as “where [Fast Food Restaurant X] used to be.”

I moved there long after the fast food restaurant had closed, but I got the message: that in Lebanon, as in New England, there are locals, who know the longue duree of the land; and there are others. With that in mind, Ace should fit right in🙂.

There’s another ad that has been running regularly in the paper – one from travel agent Nakhal, advertising regular flights to Baghdad and Erbil:

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I know Nakhal primarily as an agency focused on leisure travel: vacations, honeymoons, etc. But it seems to have found a lucrative new sideline. The flights, which run on Flying Carpet and Wings of Lebanon, are not inexpensive – $600RT in economy class, and booking a ticket requires an “invitation letter” from an Iraqi company or other organization.

I’m sure that some of you are thinking: What’s the big deal? Why wouldn’t Lebanon have direct flights to Iraq?

I’m not sure what the big deal is, to be honest. And yes, there have been direct flights from Lebanon for some time. What I find interesting is that they are now being advertised by a travel agent, with all the supporting infrastructure this implies (transfer arrangements, hotel bookings, etc.). I see it as an indication that there is now a steady interest in traveling to Iraq for business ventures, and am hopeful that this means better things – like stability – for Iraqis.

3 Responses to “Ads and ends from the local paper”

  1. Well the whole thing with the flights is that there still is a murky security situation on the ground in iraq. The big deal with direct flights from Beirut by big name airlines is that once that happens then that means an “official” recognition by the lebanese governement of the new iraqi governement and thus by implication support for the american invasion or liberation (however you see it). That is also why most arab countries still have no permanent diplomatic mission at the level of ambassadors.

  2. S. Worthen said

    It’s been notable news here that the first commercial flights to Baghdad in years are flying again.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7809167.stm

  3. […] by adiamondinsunlight on February 28, 2009 As I mentioned in a post last month, last spring I began seeing billboard advertisements for the new Ace Hardware on the road between […]

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