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Dangerously short skirts; expensive cars; fine-dining restaurants; a bustling Corniche; and a basket full of angry politicians and followers… welcome to Beirut.
October 21, 2009 4:45 by Dana El Baltaji
For all its sleaze, pollution and concrete ugliness, Beirut exudes a glamorous, dirty-sexy vibe, the sort of sexiness you’d find in old black-and-white Italian movies from the 1950s (minus the gorgeous architecture). It’s the sort of contradictive condition that intrigues adventure-seeking westerners and party-hungry Arabs to Lebanon’s troubled capital.
The nation’s 15-year civil war – from 1975 to 1990 – and the political instability that followed have transformed Beirut from the Middle East’s commercial and social hub to the region’s political dumping ground, where religious and political factions fought out their differences. Consequently, Beirut is hardly an aesthetic beauty.
The majority of its buildings are bullet-ridden eyesores, built closely together like a clique of teenage misfits. And sadly, most are poorly maintained, but many are home to some truly creative graffiti (although the messages aren’t always stirring), such as a beautifully ornate declaration of love to a girl called Rita close to Monot Street in Ashrafieh, and a colorful “Beirut sucks” located next to the American University of Beirut in Ras Beirut.
While the city is less than gorgeous, Beirutis have transformed their war-torn city into a party capital, turning bombed out, Ottoman inspired buildings into posh restaurants such as Abdel Wahab in Ashrafieh or Casablanca on the Corniche.