November 08, 2008

Saturday Morning in Beirut

I had some errands to run in town. It’s almost impossible to find a parking spot these days in this part of Beirut, and traffic is slow, so you might as well walk if it is within a 5 kilometer radius of your house. So this is Beirut on a Saturday morning, on foot.

There seems to be little entertainment in this town, if you look at these people. At least 10 people were watching how this road worker flattened a piece of newly laid tarmac. Tar is called 'zift', or 'ziffit' in Arabic, which is also used as a derogatory remark. When someone is considered a piece of s***, he or she is called 'zift'. Some of Beirut's more traditional architecture, dating back from colonial French times, mixed with Ottoman bits. The wrought iron balconies and wooden shutters. They don't build like this anymore, and the definitely do not preserve and restore either. People just live here until the place falls apart, or until they can sell the land to someone who will demolish it and replace it with a 12 story apartment building.

Another example. Still inhabited, but probably not for long. Real estate prices in Beirut are - despite the economic slump in the world - are rocketing sky-high.

Beirut was listed as one of the top ten liveliest cities in the world by the lonely planet list of the top ten cities for 2009. But that is probably a bit of an urban legend. It isn't 2009 yet, and we sure as hell don't feature on the 2008 list either; Damascus does. We do feature on this Lonely Planet list though. And we make the #1 place as well.

Pre-schoolers with their teacher in the park on a Satuday morning. Most schools still require some sort of uniform.


Kheireddine said...

Those pics were taken in Sanayeh and Spears st. Am I right?

Sietske said...

Aha, you know your town well!

Zeina said...

Where is the location of the second picture?

I have this feeling like I've walked past it many times and never taken notice until I saw it on your blog.

What a frustrating feeling!

Kheireddine said...

And I haven't been there for more than 17 years! ;)

ms. tee said...

Liveliest city for 2009? I certainly hope not! A little less liveliness could do us some good.

Anonymous said...

I heard the quality of the tar they use currently in Lebanon is poor so they will collapse again in no time . The old French roads where a lot better. Maximise profit and corruption is the name of the game.