Li Beyrouth

Fairuz, c.1965

The voice of Lebanon

Fairuz was born Nouhad Haddad in 1935, and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. She began her musical career as a chorus member at the Lebanese Radio Station, eventually gaining public recognition by the late 1950s. She worked alongside her husband ‘Assi Rahbani (composition, arrangement), his brother Mansour (lyrics), and–later on–her son Ziad Rahbani. Their individual talents combined added much diversity to a sound reflective of both the old and new generations of popular music throughout the world. From the early 1960s onwards, Fairuz was unquestionably one of the greatest celebrities in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world. Throughout her greatly successful career to date, she has performed in various cities in the Middle East, Europe, and the US. Today, Fairuz’s legacy as the beautiful voice of Lebanon–its ‘ambassador to the stars’–and as a revered cultural icon in the Arab world remains as strong as it ever was.

The legend of Fairuz

At an age before I could walk and talk, I was surrounded by the music my parents most loved. I was weaned on Classical and Jazz, Motown and Disco, and oriental and mainstream Arabic music. And yet in those years, no singer had a more profound impact on my early musical education than Fairuz. It is to her that I am indebted for being able to maintain a passion in the culture that my parents shared with me all those years ago. I am still deeply moved by her music: an expression of love, peace, and traditional poetry fused with a mix of orchestral, Arabic folk, and European dance tones and rythms. Her albums Maarifti Feek and Shat Iskandaria are among my favourites, and include some of her best songs, like ‘Oudak rannan’, ‘Ma qeddert nesseit’, and most notably ‘Li Beyrouth’. 

‘Li Beyrouth’

As with Memory For Forgetfulness, ‘Li Beyrouth’ speaks of a city ravaged by destruction in war-time Beirut in the 1970s and 80s. Hearing it now, this song bears witness to what is going on in Lebanon today despite it being decades since, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. Today, I include it here in tribute not only to Fairuz, but to all the people in Lebanon.  Li Beyrouth, min qalbi salamon li Beyrouth…

Verses in Arabic

Li Beyrouth - Arabic

English Translation
‘To Beirut’

A greeting from my heart to Beirut
Kisses to the sea and to the houses
To a rock, which is like an old sailor’s face
She is made from the people’s soul, from wine
She is from his sweat, bread and jasmines
So how does her taste become a taste of fire and smoke?

Glory from the ashes to Beirut
My city has turned out her lamp
From the blood of a child carried upon her hand
She shut her door, and became alone in the sky
Alone with the night
You are mine, you are mine
Ah, embrace me, you are mine
You are my flag, tomorrow–stone
And a travel’s waves
The wounds of my people have blossomed
And mother’s tears
You are mine, you are mine
Ah, embrace me

Listen to ‘Li Beyrouth’

Fairuz: Official Site

Sarah Badr © MMVI


10 thoughts on “Li Beyrouth

  1. thank you thank you thank you i have been looking for this song for five years now ///
    fate has it that i downloaded it on my birthday the 11th of August WHILE LEAVING MY BEAUTIFUL BEIRUT on a french warship……

  2. Mohamed,
    You are very welcome. This is definitely a song that everyone should get the opportunity to hear. The events of the last month have been tragic. I truly hope with all my heart for a peaceful and prosperous future for the beautiful country of Lebanon and the Lebanese people. I wish you all the best–wi kol sana winta tayeb!

  3. Ever since I first heard the haunting tunes of Li Beirut, I have been eager to understand the words of the song. Of course, I could decipher the first sentence, and the recurring “anti li, anti li”, but that was about it. However, thanks to your posting of the lyrics and the translation, the song is now tenfold more beautiful than it initially was to me. Shokran jazilan! :) Although I must admit the “khatt” was pretty hard to read, especially for a non-Arab like me ;-) Long live Fairuz and Lebanon!

  4. Alex,
    3afwan! I am very happy that the translation has been of help. It seems that there is more widespread interest in this song than I had expected, and certainly knowing the meaning helps to put it in the context that it deserves.

    Below is the song in plain script for anyone who has trouble reading the khatt above. It is too small to read here, but can be copied and pasted into a word processor document and enlarged:


    مِنْ قلبـي سلامٌ لِبيروتْ
    وقُبَلٌ للبحرِ والبيوتْ
    لصخرةٍ كأنها وجهُ بحارٍ قديمِ
    هيَ منْ ، روحُ الشعبِ ، هيَ منْ ، عرقِهِ خبزٌ وياسمينِ
    فكيفَ صارَ طعمُها
    طعمَ نارٍ ودخانِ
    لبيروتْ ، مجدٌ منْ رماد
    لبيروتْ ، من دمٍ لولدٍ حُمِلَ فوقَ يدِها
    أطفأتْ مدينتي قنديلَها
    أغلقتْ بابَها ، أصبحتْ في المساءِ وحدَها
    وحدَها وليل
    أنتِ لي ، أنتِ لي ، آهِ عانقيني
    أنتِ لي رايتي ، وحجرُ الغدِ ، وموجُ سفر
    أزهرتْ جراحُ شعبـي ، أزهرتْ دمعةُ الأمهات
    أنتِ لي ، أنتِ لي ، آهِ عانقيني

  5. Shukran jazilan for the lyrics in plain text. Yes, it is small, but with firefox pressing ctrl + (+) makes the text larger. You can also press minus later to decrease it – an indispensible tool for anyone wishing to read arabic texts on the internet. :-) Ila liqa’i

  6. Hey.. thank you so much for the lyrics in arabic and the translation..
    i was just wondering if you could possibly post other fairouz lyrics.. because it is really hard to find most on the internet!

  7. In the lyrics above, you have forgotten the word wine, in the second paragraph.
    هِيَ مِن روحِ الشعبِ خمرٌ
    Concerning the translation related to this passage also, i don’t agree completely. Looking at the accentuation of the words, the translation should look like

    She is from people’s soul, wine
    She is from his sweat, bread and jasmines

    Another mistake is slipped in the translation, between evening مَساءِ and sky سماء
    Therefore, the translation should look like

    She shut her door, and became alone in the evening
    Alone with the night

    Thank you for this interesting page

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