Tripoli, North Governorate, Lebanon

🇱🇧 Tripoli is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in the country. Situated 85 km north of the capital Beirut, it is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Tripoli overlooks the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and it is the northernmost seaport in Lebanon. It holds a string of four small islands offshore, and they are the only islands in Lebanon. The Palm Islands were declared a protected area because of their status of haven for endangered loggerhead turtles, rare monk seals and migratory birds. Tripoli borders the city of El Mina, the port of the Tripoli District, which it is geographically conjoined with to form the greater Tripoli conurbation.

The history of Tripoli dates back at least to the 14th century BCE. The city is well known for containin Mansouri Great Mosque and the largest Crusader fortress in Lebanon, the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles, and it has the second highest concentration of Mamluk architecture after Cairo. In the Arab World, Tripoli is sometimes known as Ṭarābulus al-Sham (طرابلس الشام‎) or Levantine Tripoli to distinguish it from its Libyan counterpart, known as Tripoli-of-the-West. With the formation of Lebanon and the 1948 breakup of the Syrian–Lebanese customs union, Tripoli, once on par in economic and commercial importance to Beirut, was cut off from its traditional trade relations with the Syrian hinterland and therefore declined in relative prosperity.

Commerce Tripoli, while once economically comparable to Beirut, has declined in recent decades. Organisations such as the Business Incubation Association in Tripoli (BIAT) are currently trying to revive traditional export businesses such as furniture production, artisanal copper goods, soaps, as well as expand new industries such as ICT offshoring and new technological invention. The Tripoli Special Economic Zone (TSEZ) was established in 2008 to provide exemptions from many taxes and duties for investment projects that have more than $300,000 of capital and more than half their workers from Lebanon. It is a 55-hectare site adjacent to the Port of Tripoli. Recently, a Tripoli development plan called "Tripoli Vision 2020" has been formulated and supported by a number of advisory councils including influential key government officials and prominent businessmen in the city. The goal of the project is to provides a comprehensive framework consisting of promoting investment, investing, training, re-skilling, talent placement and output promotion to reinvigorate the city's economy. The Tripoli Vision 2020 was sponsored by the Prime Minister Saad Hariri Office and the Tripoli MPs Joint Office with the comprehensive study conducted by Samir Chreim of SCAS Inc.

Inequality Tripoli embodies Lebanon's extreme wealth inequality: Although it is one of the country's most concentrated centres of poverty, it is also the hometown of several extravagantly wealthy politicians, notably including Najib Mikati, Taha Mikati and Mohammad Safadi.

The Soap Khan The khan, built around a square courtyard decorated with a fountain, houses soap making workshops and shops. At the end of the 15th century, the governor of Tripoli Yusuf Sayfa Pasha established Khan Al Saboun (the hotel of soap traders). This market was finished at the beginning of the 16th century, the last days of the Mamluk rule. The manufacture of soap was very popular in Tripoli. There, the market became a trade centre where soap was produced and sold. Afterwards, traders of Tripoli began to export their soap to Europe.

Initially, perfumed soaps were offered as gifts in Europe and as a result, handiwork developed in Tripoli. Due to the ongoing increase of the demand, craftsmen started to consider soap making as a real profession and real art which led to an increased demand for Tripoli soap in various Arab and Asian countries. Currently, many varieties of soap are manufactured and sold in Tripoli such as anti-acne soaps, moisturizing soaps, slimming soaps, etc. which has increased an exportation of these soap products. The raw material used for these kinds of soap is olive oil. The Tripoli soap is also composed of: honey, essential oils, and natural aromatic raw materials like flowers, petals, and herbs. The soaps are dried in the sun, in a dry atmosphere, allowing the evaporation of the water that served to mix the different ingredients. The drying operation lasts for almost three months. As the water evaporates, a thin white layer appears on the soap surface, from the soda that comes from the sea salts. The craftsman brushes the soap very carefully with his hand until the powder trace is entirely eliminated.

Khan el-Khayyatin–the Tailors' Khan Unlike other khans built around a square courtyard, el-Khayyatin, built in the 14th century, is a 60 meter long passage with arches on each side.

Arabic sweets Tripoli is regionally known for its Arabic sweets where people consider it as one of the main attractions and reasons to visit the city. Some sweetshops have even built a regionally and even internationally recognised brand name like Abdul Rahman & Rafaat Al Hallab, who both became so popular, opening shops outside Tripoli and shipping sweets boxes worldwide.

Image: Adobe Stock Leonid Andronov #246392857

Tripoli has a population of over 227,857 people. Tripoli also forms the centre of the wider Tripoli District which has a population of over 310,980 people.

Twin Towns – Sister Cities Tripoli is twinned with: 🇮🇹 Naples, Italy; 🇸🇾 Damascus, Syria; 🇨🇾 Larnaca, Cyprus; 🇵🇹 Faro, Portugal; 🇫🇷 Toulouse, France.

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