Talk is brewing online concerning ‘Brand Lebanon’, an idea that there needs to be a centralized authority (thanks to A Purple Monkey for the link) to market Lebanon to the world – like a Tourism Ministry on steroids.

I like the idea of thinking big. But the problem with big thoughts that do not have proper foundations is that they are likely to sink very quickly (remember the Shopping Festivals).

What Lebanon really needs is a communication network that functions well, because clearly things were not working on Tuesday:

Over the past 40 years Beirut’s residents have grown accustomed to the ear-splitting sound of Israeli jet fighters, which regularly flew over and frequently bombed targets here.

So they could be forgiven for jumping to conclusions when the sound of jet engines flying far lower and faster than any commercial aircraft rattled the capital again on Tuesday morning.

“I almost started packing a bag and headed to a school where I knew the refugees [from South Lebanon] would come,” said Souha, an NGO and aid worker. “I mean, the sound of fighter jets that low had to mean the Israelis were attacking again, right?”

Actually, no. Except for one short flight last year, it has been more than 30 years since the tiny Lebanese air force deployed its antique 1960s-era Hawker Hunter jet fighters, but on Tuesday they once again took to the skies to practise for the military day parade on August 1.

See the problem is that no one really knew the Air Force was running practice runs.

“It is no problem, the pilot is training,” said a spokesman for the LAF. “We warned all the newspapers and television stations yesterday in a press release.”

But the media had not received the message and Beirut, in the middle of its best tourist season in half a decade, went into a panic, with visitors from Europe and the Gulf immediately deciding to try to flee the city.

The moral of the story: Think Globally, Act Locally

Lebanese Hawker Hunter

Lebanese Hawker Hunter