It was years ago that I first heard about Mleeta, or as the press had dubbed it Hezbollah’s Disneyland. In fact YPT have even visited there, after all you get a chance to talk to Hezbollah, but what is the place all about and is it worth visiting Mleeta?
To read about touring Syria click here.
Where is Mleeta?
Mleeta is located in Southern Lebanon right in the heartland of what was previously occupied Israeli territory, as well as a hotbed of the Lebanese Civil War. It was though during the occupation by Israel that Hezbollah was formed with Mleeta being the base of their insurgency.
Nowadays this is very much the heartland of Hezbollah and you will see their distinctive yellow flags, as well a pictures of martyrs and the Secretary-General everywhere.
OK, so where is Hezbollah’s Disneyland? About 90 minutes, or so from Beirut and not all that far from where Mary saw off Jesus to go spread the good word.
Is it really Hezbollah’s Disneyland?
No it is not Disneyland, it is a museum/monument dedicated to the struggle of Hezbollah against Israel and the occupation, as well as more contemporary issues. Regardless of where you sit on this particular fence it is also always interesting to hear and see the other side of the argument, much like how we promote North Korean tourism.
To read about tours to North Korea click here.
In actuality Mleeta is known as the “Tourist Landmark of the Resistance”, or “Museum for Resistance Tourism”. Aside from the museum and touristic element it still serves a military purpose as command centre and is conversely supposed to one day become a fully blown tourist “resort” with both restaurants and a hotel. It is unlikely to feature any bars…
What can you do at Mleeta Hezbollah’s Disneyland
First port of call is the cinema where you see a video about the history of the group narrated by the current secretary general. You then go on the the “tour”here an enthusiastic, but camera shy member of Hezbollah take you around explaining the history, but most interestingly answering all questions while giving the “view” of Hezbollah. It is of course extremely anti-Israel, or to be more precise anti-Zionist, but also threw up more than one curveball.
Despite being allied to Russia through Syria the guide stated they were extremely against the Russian invasion in the sense that they “hated all war”, but also gave a different answer to what I expected when asked about Syria.
“You think we went there to prop-up the regime, but we went to fight ISIS. Remember it was us that saved the village that houses the last people that speak Aramaic in Maaloula. Where were the Christian countries at this time”?
Again while you don’t have to agree with what is said, you can never know the other side unless you hear and see it for yourself.
The tour of Mleeta
The tour part takes over an hour with you seeing not only war stuff, but some contemporary art featuring, well war stuff. There is though much more to the place than just this! It is more than anything when you walk around very much surreal and again regardless of your political position propaganda of the North Korean variety.
To read about the best bar in Beirut click here .
At the end you have a museum, which is one room and not up to much, as well as a gift shop where you can but Hezbollah t-shirts and fridge magnets. Ten points for guessing if I partook……
At the very end we stopped the coffee shop from where the guide came to talk to us. It was nice to have a frank conversation with him where he was happy to hear our views.
The trip was ended when our Christian driver came and said we needed to leave, with their frosty exchange being endemic of just how divided Lebanon remains to this day.