Artistic creativity has always been an important component of life in Beirut. A buoyant city sitting on the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean, Beirut is at the same time an Arab city and a European one. In this sense, it is similar to many other Mediterranean harbours that have served as links between countries and cultures. But Beirut has been more and it remains so. It is the gate to the Orient and to the West. For the European, it is the easy Orient and for the Oriental, it is the easy West. It offers a space of transition and, in this space, it offers freedom of thought and an intellectual arena that has shaped the thinking of the Near and Middle-East.
It is in Beirut that the Nahda (awakening) of the Arab literature and thought took place in the mid 19th century, and it is at the same period that the Arab theatre was born. Since then, Beirut has never ceased to be a place of creation and of freedom of thought. The first universities of the Middle East were created in Beirut and the first modern Arabic literature that shaped the Arab novel and poetry began in Beirut.