Lebanon’s historic southern city is well known for its impressive ruins and long stretch of sandy beach, but there is so much more to see. LT reveals five alternative things to do in the Tyre region this summer
1. Glass blowing heritage
On your way down South, make a stop at the ancient town of Sarafand, located about halfway on the road between Saida and Tyre. Archeological excavations in Sarafand, show the town was once an important center of industry with evidence of glass and porcelain production, and the tradition of glass blowing continuing to this day. And right next to the remains of old pottery kilns and workshops is the Sarafand Glass Factory (03 906091, Sarafand) of the Khalife family – where father, brother, son and daughter still produce blown-glass items today.
Only a few years ago the workshop was at risk of closing, with the competition of cheap China-made glass imports and declining numbers of foreign tourists to Lebanon taking a hit on the business. But after the Green Glass Recycling Initiative partnered up with them to recycle the waste beer bottles that usually end their life in landfills, business is now booming.
“Just two years ago we would only open for work a few days a month. But after getting a contract with Almaza a few months ago we became so busy, working almost 24 hours a day,” says Rima Khalife, a member of the family business. “They make seven million bottles of rubbish a year and we recycle the glass and make glasses from it. For every eight bottles of waste, we make one recycled glass.” At the workshop you can see firsthand the glass-blowing tradition in process. Afterwards stop by the small shop, where they sell their artisan products – from bowls, vases and glasses to chandeliers and lamps.