Overview of Zahle: Location and Specificities
Zahle is situated 55 km east of capital Beirut and 945 m above sea level. It is located in a deep ravine on the eastern slopes of Mount-Lebanon mountain chain in the Bekaa Valley. The Bekaa Valley is situated between the two mountains chains of Mount-Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. Zahle is the administrative capital of the Bekaa Valley. The number of its inhabitants is around 130,000.
Zahle is considered as the Downtown of the Bekaa Valley. It is the largest administrative center of the Bekaa and constitutes the third largest city after Beirut and Tripoli in terms of the different services’ availability. Zahle includes a chamber of commerce, industry and agriculture, a municipality, departments of different ministries as well the Palace of Justice etc. The city has the first health center in the Bekaa Province.
There are 4 hospitals and many dispensaries, more than five Universities, Lebanese Red Cross center, Caritas (charity association) blood bank and United Nations agency as well many banks, loan offices, insurance companies and exchange offices. Zahle’s economy depends essentially on small businesses with a small number of employees it is with pride that the Zahliots named their city “the City of Poetry and Wine”; indeed more than 50 poets and writers were born there, such as the famous poet Said Akl. To honor them, each year a poetry day is organized where prominent poets from the entire Arab world participate. The former Lebanese president of the Republic, Bechara el Khoury, said about Zahle’s Poetry: “In Zahle, poetry tastes as good as its wine. It’s the most beautiful Lebanese garden for poets and writers and the most inspiring region of all”.