Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Driving while black? Try travelling while Lebanese!

Now that the end of year is coming, many Lebanese are preparing to do holiday travels abroad and for those who toiled to get the visa, mostly Schengen or US visas (last time it took 60 papers for me to get my own Schengen), are about to have a nasty surprise - the airport security.
Yes, the visa, ticket, passport is all there. And then you land.
Prepare to be taken aside by security, your visa scrutinized so as to avoid fakes, questioned by several people as to your purpose of visit, made to wait for a long time (45 minutes during my last trip) and if you have someone waiting for you (a friend or family member) better to tell them to wait.
Travelling while Lebanese (or with a Lebanese passport) is not for the faint of heart. You are automatically labelled SSSS in the US as soon as you land (Secondary Security Screening Selection) and in Europe and the UK not much better treatment. In the words of a young woman traveling "the only non-humiliating part was that there were so many of us pulled aside as we were travelling as a group of Lebanese that no one from the other passengers paid attention" - but that, after all the work done for the visa does not make it right.
Mind you I understand Europe wants to protect itself, and the events unfolding starring people of Arab and Maghreb origins does not bode well, but at the same time - travel, which used to be a leisure and a pleasure, is becoming less so - so much less so that many people I know are basically giving up on it or choosing other destinations which require less hassle - or in my case choosing only trips which are either worthy of undertaking or long enough to compensate for the paperwork and work.
With this - bon voyage!