“They say stay away from Lebanon, but is there anything more beautiful than Lebanon?” That's the central message behind a new ad released by the Ministry of Tourism on Monday in a fresh effort to convince travelers that this country -- caught in the middle of a heated political summer, a war next door in Syria and the violent antics of a wayward sheikh -- is still worth visiting.

To the casual observer, the ministry's commercial could come off as a giant dose of denial. But hear it from a local first, folks: you have to take into account the fact that Lebanon is pretty much on the potential brink of chaos year-round. It's not like a seasonal thing. And for once, I've got to give the Tourism Ministry credit for not resorting to its usual, superficial portrayal of Lebanon, which involves the following components, to be read in no particular order: boobies, boobies and more boobies.

Instead, the one-minute ad begins with the soothing sounds of Fairouz's song, "Ya Tayr" or "Oh Bird." The music whisks us away to the best parts of Lebanon, highlighting the food, the sun, the sea and the mountains. The narrator even throws in (very oddly) the word 'democracy' for good measure. Fear not, travelers! We have democracy!

They say don't come to Lebanon, but if you're brave enough to make it over (and trust us, it's really not that bad - despite the current travel warnings from the US, UK and most of the countries in the Gulf), then check out our Insider's Guide to Beirut along with a handy page pointing you to all of Lebanon's major tourist attractions.

Yeah, that was a shameless self-promotion. But so what? Our website is legitimately awesome.

Bon voyage, peeps.

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