“Colors of an Ancient Beirut” recreates the colorful culture of the ancient Lebanese capital. Starting out as a tiny town on the edge of the Mesopotamian desert, Beirut gradually grew into a bustling commercial center over the course of the next two centuries. “Colors of a Desert,” recreates many of the local activities and landmarks, from the colorful tents of early inhabitants to the intricately designed public buildings of modern times. Starting with an introduction to the city, the book covers all the major events that have shaped the history of Lebanon: the rise of Islam, the Crusades, the decimation of its Christian population, the takeover of Jerusalem by Jews, and the establishment of Israel. In addition to chronicling these key moments in history, “Colors of a Desert” also looks into the often-mysterious reasons behind them. We learn what motivated each of the major players in this fascinating tale and why they ultimately decided where they went and why.
With colorful pictures of ancient tents and the modern-day hustle and bustle of the city streets by its airport, “Colors of a Desert” makes clear why Beirut is known as the “apest” city in the Middle East. A series of fortresses line the coast, some still occupied by Hezbollah fighters, while the downtown skyline is dotted with some of the most famous sportbooks in the world. The sportbooks are as varied as their clientele: Hezbollah supporters may frequent the Betaloths (built in the 1930s as an offshoot of the world’s first permanent blackjack casino), while others may prefer the glamour of the Dubai World’s Most Popular Sportbook or the plush, elegant lobbies of Las Vegas’ Venetian Resort Hotel. For all the sportbooks of the world, Beirut provides the perfect home base, providing them the perfect escape from both routine day-to-day life and the ever-increasingly difficult conditions that come with being in the business.
There is no doubt that the constant fighting in neighboring Syria has had an effect on the industry. It is a factor that most countries bordering the Middle East have to cope with, especially in areas with volatile regimes. In addition, it presents unique gambling opportunities for those who have lost faith in their own governments. The conflict has also dampened the outlook of some countries’ traditional tourism attractions, which in turn, has had an indirect effect on the operation of UFA. Even the normally cautious sportsbooks have had to re-evaluate their operations following the recent spate of violence in the region, with some abandoning their establishments all together.
While Hezbollah and the international terrorist organization have claimed responsibility for the recent attacks in Beirut, there is no proof so far that these groups or individuals actually took part in the assaults. Many analysts have suggested that Hezbollah and its international sponsors may have used the attacks as a means to stoke public outrage over the deteriorating political situation in Lebanon. The attack on the prominent Hezbollah-owned Bank Al-Manar in Washington DC also came just as President Bush was planning to travel to the Middle East and participate in regional talks with Arab leaders. This may have been another factor that scared off potential customers and caused many to seek out other venues for their betting needs. As the political situations in the region continue to deteriorate, many of these sportsbooks have little choice but to turn back away from UFA games.
Despite the recent losses, there are still many successful operations going on across the Middle East. Most of the best known names in the world of professional UFA gaming, such as Ladbrokes, Coral Sportsbook and Intercasino, remain open despite the recent turmoil. These same sportsbooks, however, have significantly reduced their daily operation over the past few months, due to the loss of clientele. Some have even gone out of business altogether, while others have scaled back their operations in response to the reduced customer base. In response to this, many new online bookmakers have entered the fray, eager to take advantage of the lack of available players and the relative ineffectiveness of Hezbollah and Iran.
The bottom line is that the future of UFA betting is far from clear. Some bookmakers have taken it upon themselves to go into business with companies associated with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Iran, which can effectively cut off millions of dollars in income that would normally flow into the United States. For the time being, however, the fate of UFA remains uncertain, and many new online bookmakers are unlikely to make much money from this exciting betting sport, even if it were to remain popular.