Proust Questionnaire: Beirut

By Raafat Hamze, Marketer/Entrepreneur | Beirut

Beirut Travel Info From Locals and Expats

What is your idea of a perfectly happy day in your city?

Friday late afternoon. People are rushing out of their offices to begin their weekends. It’s not that they don’t enjoy their jobs, but Beirut is really more a city to live in than to work in. The hangouts in Hamra and Gemmayzeh are waiting to contain their agoras.

One specific day that epitomizes the city’s happiness was the day when the first March for Secularism happened in April, 2010. That day was pregnant with the city’s diversity and aspirations. It was, well, simply happy.

Knowing your city and its citizens, what is your greatest fear?

Social conflict. Otherness, moving from a platform of diversity, or a spinner of change, to a platform of rejection, cocooning, and even hatred.

Which historical figure would do best in your city?


Which do you admire most about your city (something from recent years)?

Art Lounge, the warehouse turned into an art exhibitions space, catalyzing cultural events, and good music.

Which is the trait you deplore most about your city?

Volatility. But maybe this is one of the main reasons I love it after all.
Not enough green space. But luckily there’s sea. It will always defy urbanization.

What is the negative trait that others falsely accuse your city of having?


What is the greatest extravagance one can experience in your city?

The sky’s the limit. Maybe shopping at Aishti, dining at Eau De Vie, drinking the night away at Sky Bar, and staying at Le Gray.

What is a positive trait your city is known for that is actually false?

Weather. Global warming killed most of it.

What do you dislike most about the architecture, city layout and general appearance of your city?

There’s no real urban planning, so quarters jam in and out of each other. I don’t necessarily dislike this though. Seen from elevated floors, the city looks like an urban jungle (but nevertheless charming in its own twisted aesthetics). I definitely dislike the massive blocks replacing heritage buildings.

When was your city’s hey-day?

(I think) the 60’s and early 70’s. Too bad I wasn’t born then. It’s been booming again in the past decades. I’m happy I’m living here and now.

If you could change one thing about your city what would it be?

Better conservation of heritage.

What do outsiders (or transplants and long-time visitors) to your city generally answer to the last question?


What do you consider your city’s greatest achievement?

Being a home to all those who do not belong elsewhere. Being a home to whoever wishes it to be. Its quirky way of being inclusive and hospitable.

If your city was destroyed and one day its ruins discovered, what do you think they would find and/or learn about it?

It’s already been destroyed eight times. Besides finding those ruins from eight eras that keep resurfacing like Samsaric beings or non-resting ghosts, they will find the vestiges of today. Regular vestiges that exist in every thriving city, and that testify to a city that proudly and defiantly went through it all.

What is your city’s greatest artistic or architectural acquisition?

B018, the Egg, and Centrale are all the products of local architects inspired by their own city. Both B018 and Centrale are built by the Lebanon’s foremostarchitect Bernard Khoury. Centrale is very powerful because it borrows a lot from the ceremonies of union in debauchery (at brothels?) in a place that sits on the ex-demarcation lines between warring fractions.

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