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Until this week, Beirut was back

BEIRUT, Lebanon — It's hard to believe, but until this week, Beirut was back!

When many Westerners think of the Lebanese capital, they think of all the kidnappings, of a city that was basically bombed out and burned up.

But for the last several years, it has enjoyed tremendous economic prosperity. Restaurants have been restored, tourists have been coming here, prices for real estate have gone through the roof, and it's not uncommon to see sports cars like Ferraris on the street.

A few weeks ago, I was here and working on just that story — it was even called "Beirut is back." It was supposed to be about how the economy has revived, the restaurants are full, the nightclubs are hopping, and the beaches are full of women in bikinis.

Today I'm standing here wearing a flak jacket, watching the airport burning, and there are more strikes expected.

Editor's note: Read the rest of Richard's reporter's notebook, written for MSNBC.com, here.