Shopping in Beirut
The Lebanese love to shop, but ironically, Beirut is hardly a shopping paradise. Only a handful of international brands have outlets in the city, and their stocks are minimal. Nevertheless, there are bargains to be had, most of which are to be found in the markets rather than the malls.
Saifi Village, just off the Place des Martyrs, is a rabbit warren of interesting boutiques selling pieces by local designers and craftsmen, and hosts the Souk el-Tayeb (Lebanon’s first farmers’ market) on Saturdays. The student quarter of Hamra is where you’ll find most of the shopping centres, while on the Rue Verdun in Downtown, you’ll be able to pick up a piece of designer gear. For vintage and knick-knacks, Gemayzeh is the place to go.
While the Souk el-Tayeb specialises in local food and wine, the Artisans du Liban et d'Orient in Ain El Mreisseh is the place to go for traditional craftsmanship and souvenirs. Expect to find traditional silver jewellery, handcrafted robes and brightly coloured handbags.
Most Beirutis, if asked, will probably recommend ABC Mall in Ashrafieh. The mall is home to over 200 stores but has nothing particularly special to recommend it. The other is Verdun 732 on Rue Hussein El Ouayni. Also popular with locals, it hasn't much to offer beyond international high street chains and the odd local boutique.
Shops throughout Lebanon are open Monday to Friday between 0930 to 1830 Monday while on Saturday, they open from 0930 to 1400. Shops are closed on Sunday.
Beauty fans shouldn’t leave without visiting Khan Al Saboun (www.khanalsaboun.net), which makes what is possibly the best soap in the world. Also worth buying is intricate silver jewellery.