Demolition of old buildings is a daily occurrence in Beirut, where high-rise flats and car parks are taking over the city and dozens of skyscrapers emerge every year — towering over the city’s ancient buildings.

Find out more about current developments in Beirut and its chaotic skyline:

“During the 1990s, the Ministry of Culture put together a list of historical landmarks in the country. The Direction Générale des Antiquités (DGA) included approximately 1,600 buildings in Beirut, most of them from the Ottoman period or the French mandate. As of this year, 80 percent of the buildings on the list have been demolished, say representatives from both APLH and Save Beirut Heritage (SBH).” (Demolishing Lebanese identity / NOW, Lebanon 2013)

“Beirut’s recent history – war and reconstruction – has much in common with several developing cities in the world: uncontrolled urbanization, environmental damages and the concentration of urban transportation along the main coastal corridor.” (PLANS FOR AN UNPLANNED CITY: Beirut / by Eric Verdeil)

“Outside of the center, rampant speculation is radically changing the character of historic neighbourhoods, and gentrifying in the process these neighbourhoods. This is largely due to the failure of the political authorities to develop and implement a new urban plan that limits densities, safeguards historic landmarks, and creates much needed public spaces and green parks. The reconstruction was also controversial at the urban level, as some districts irreversibly lost their character.” (BEIRUT: BETWEEN MEMORY AND DESIRE / by Elie Haddad)

Old buildings in Beirut, symbol of the history on the one side and speculative investments on the other, the demolition is an example for the dynamics of urban spaces caught between the inertia of the past and the historical transformations of the past.




Beirut, Oct 2012

Clashes erupted outside government offices in the Lebanese capital Beirut in October last year. Thousands attended the funeral of security chief Wissam al-Hassan who was killed by a car bomb. Hassan is a pivotal figure in Lebanon. He was heavily involved in the investigation of former information minister Michel Samaha, who is an al-Assad supporter. Hassan earlier led an investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. Opposition figures blamed neighbouring Syria and Hezbollah for the attack. The unrest began after the funeral, the mourners had protested against Syria and its Lebanese allies amid fears the Syrian conflict could spill over. But the confrontation outside the prime minister’s office just lasted for a few minutes, the army shoot in the air to disperse the crowd and most of the protesters went home.

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Memory for Forgetfulness

“I’ve forgotten the alphabet. All I remember are these six letters: B-E-I-R-U-T.”

(Mahmoud Darwish)

Photo Diary, Lebanon 2012


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