Lebanon's Forgotten Airport: Kleyate

Historical Lebanese Air Force jet
Historical Lebanese Air Force jet | © Oren Rozen/ Wikimedia Commons

Northern Lebanon, Tripoli and beyond, have long been forgotten in terms of development. More pronounced after political unrest in Tripoli, the region suffers, in need of employment opportunities and tourist activity. The beauty of northern Lebanon’s landscape and people certainly justifies the call for making them a tourist destination but the transport infrastructure is in need of investment.

Loved by over 40s

A 3 hour car ride along (not always smooth) roads separates the Rafic Hariri international airport in southern Beirut from most northern cities. With the situation in Syria, the influx of people into the north further decreased as less Lebanese people risk crossing the border. In a dismal situation such as this, the locals live in hope that the Kleyate Airport (also known as the Rene Mouawad Air Base) would be bought and developed into an international airport. They believe that such a project would revitalize the north, causing a surge in investment and economic/cultural growth.

Nature in Northern Lebanon shows potential for touristic growth

In the 1960s the base was owned by an oil company and used to transport goods, staff and engineers to the plant. After that, the airport was taken over by the Lebanese military and experienced a large boom is activity and progress. Modernization had reached the airport and its international relevance came into focus. Flight activity continued with the training of Lebanese pilots until it degenerated, like many Lebanese institutions, during the Civil War.

After the Civil War and still known as the Kleyate Airport at the time, the base housed a famous meeting of the Parliament in 1989, in which they agreed on the Taaif Agreement. The agreement was drafted in an effort to stop the civil war and reinforce Lebanon’s relationship with neighboring countries. The Taaif Agreement was built on the basis of mutual coexistence as Lebanese politics had become a sectarian system. What seemed to be intended as an effort to provide all sects with rights resulted in further pronouncing the differences between the people by way of religious based discrimination.

Historical Lebanese Air Force jet

Just weeks after the agreement, President Rene Mouawad was assassinated and the Kleyate Airport’s name changed to the Rene Mouawad Airbase in his honor. Subsequently, the Lebanese Parliament decreed the air base under the control of the Lebanese Air Force and having been bombed by the Israeli government in 2006 – in a conflict between the Lebanese and Israeli government – the base was renovated and still remains under the Air Force’s control to this day.

A ray of hope shone for the locals in 2011 and 2012 when official word was given by the government that the airport would be re-established for cargo planes and low-cost airlines. An effort which would far improve transport links. However, work is still yet to begin and locals have to live in hope that someday the north will receive this much-needed investment.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.