Instagram narrations of Syrian refugees, Arabic rap and Armenian nutrient Nasri Atallah shows us theres more to the capital of Lebanon than its glamorous guilds, or its agitated politics

In five terms

A beautiful, rowdy, intoxicated mess.

Sound of the city

The car horn. Everyone in the city has their side poised only above it ready to communicate all sorts of emotions. Weve actually developed an entire non-verbal vocabulary. A long beep represents anger, two short ones are a hello to the neighbourhood greengrocer, and so on. You can even convey political devotions by playing a song. I care theyd have every car horn removed when autoes are imported. I think it would realise the place friendlier and save everyone a lot of coin on whisky and Xanax.

Everyones aria into

Lebanons mainstream Tv landscape appears frightening same to that of most countries around the world at this degree, ie some compounding of X Factor and Dancing With The Stars. The recent establish to capture the imagination is Celebrity Duets, the neighbourhood discrepancy of a very short lived American franchise it lasted all of one suddenly season which pairs celebrities with dad singers for duets. Its pretty self-explanatory. I thoughts the show is working really well in Lebanon because everybody enjoys a good singalong, and the luminary component realise it feel like youre hanging out with friends.

In this time, a Tv chef who has been on screen for about as long as I can remember performing a culinary-themed duet with dad starring Fares Karam.

Best venue


A area in the exquisite Armenian area of Beirut, Bourj Hammoud. Image: Badguer

I recently discovered Badguer, an Armenian culture core in the area of Bourj Hammoud. They host seminars promoting conventional crafts, showrooms for budding artisans, galleries for Armenian artists. Armenians are traditionally recognised as artisans in Lebanon, and numerous live in Bourj Hammoud. Its odd, this Central Asian community is very well introduced into national life, but we dont actually know much about their culture beyond cliches. So this centre is a great neighbourhood for the transmission of that culture. Oh, and theres a restaurant with delicious nutrient, which always helps.

Whos top of the playlist?

I recently received a great specified Love and Revenge by Rayess Bek and Randa Mirza. Ive been aware of Bek for a while as a colonist of Lebanese rap, but here hes doing something completely different and utterly compelling. Its a great mashup of electro, conventional Arabic music and images from Egyptian cinema. And they both grew up in France, so its a practice of treating their identity as well, I guess.

The independent music incident in Lebanon has gone through a real renaissance over the last few years, with enormous promoters like Beirut Jam Sessions and galas like Wickerpark.

Whats the look on the street?

A photo posted by Raghunter (@ raghunter ) on Sep 24, 2015 at 1:49 am PDT

Im not a comment on mode whatsoever, but my wife Nour Hage is a fashion designer, so I guess that gives me legality by association to have some kind of ruling. I frankly dont think theres an inherently Lebanese street mode. Like much else in Beirut its a mashup of things people pick up along the way. It can be preppy , normcore or hipster. Depends what street youre on. However, Id say the overwhelming aesthetic is glam. People even dress up to go to the grocery store.

Best neighbourhood artist

My favourite creator and incidentally one of my favourite people is Hamed Sinno, lead singer of Mashrou Leila. Even though hes primarily a musician, and his stripe have had massive success touring in Europe and Northern america, I thoughts his artistry departs far beyond the fresh voice hes producing to Arabic pop and folk music.

First of all, hes openly gay. A plenty has been already made of that in the international press because its a neat headline and it is undoubtedly brave to live in Lebanon and go on the treat of one of the leading lesbian publication in Europe but hes about far more than that. Hes quite active and vocal about social question, and incorporates his thinking about the world into meta-narratives that feed back into his music.

Theres something almost academic to his art, an intense desire to understand the root causes of injustice and intolerance, coupled with a drive to do something about it through prowes.

Best culture Instagram history

Natalie Naccache is a British-Lebanese photojournalist. Shes represented by Getty, and her work is really impactful. She has documented people in limbo, like Syrian refugees trying to build a life in Lebanon and migrant workers from Africa and south-east Asia.

What does Beirut do better than anywhere else ?

Design seems to be the artform we export most successfully, primarily fashion design. The top couture designers Elie Saab, Rabih Keyrouz from Lebanon are pretty much household names internationally to all persons who follows red carpet pre-award establish joke. I also think its not accidental that a lot of visual prowes, graphic blueprint, filmmaking and advertising comes from Lebanon( or at the least from Lebanese people ). Theres something about the aesthetic of the place that pushes you to add your signature to it.

Comedy gold

There are a bunch of long-running political ironies on television, some old school and some ripping off formats like The Daily Show. But they tend to be on the prejudiced, misogynistic line-up. Even though theyre fairly favourite, Id preferably not mention them. Something much more enjoyable is whats going on on Facebook. Besides Lebanese takes on various international internet memes, and some funny Viners( like Hass Julien ), a few guys going to go viral only posting videos of themselves bitching about the situation there. I like this one guy Farid Hobeiche. Hes get this massively deadpan give, and hes completely absurd. But then you think about what hes saying; its only a thought to seeing how laughable everything is here. And hes get hundreds of thousands of views, so hes clearly affecting a chord.

Moment in history

Fairuz at the Baalbeck Festival in 1957. She necessity no opening. But what people might not know about her is that she sang the story of a Lebanon that never really existed. A figment of all of our collective imaginations. Of village life and innocence. She essentially facilitated improve the identity of Lebanon, only 14 times after it became an independent country. She imbued a voice and narrations into the place.

Theres no YouTube footage of it( that I can find) but heres an extract from a musical cinema she made that has the same topic of village life.

Whats the big talking degree?

Its not exactly pleasant, but it would be disingenuous to not mention it: the trash crisis. The countrys rubbish has been piling up untreated since 21 July. Even including the government own grim criteria, this was a pretty bad happen to mess up. There were widespread affirms all summertime, accompanied by police brutality and inertia on the government line-up.

Its really a epitomize of everything thats wrong here. The organization is busted, and even our trash is polarised and politicised. Now everyone is terrified about canker. In a kind of perverse practice we were privately allayed that our great problem was now trash( something solvable through rally and more efficient governance) rather than car bombs. Thats until we had the worst terrorist attack since the end of the civil campaign on 12 November. Then the conversation shifted to why were not worthy of the same courtesy Paris was the following day.

Best street prowes


Looming large-scale over the frontiers of Hamra Photograph: Yazan Halwani

Yazan Halwani. Hes already had a tonne of courtesy for it, but I think it merits mentioning again. He composed a mural of Sabah along the side of a building in Hamra. The legendary vocalist and performer passed away last year she was equally legendary for her personal life( she did pretty much anything she wanted) in a neighbourhood with a extremely codified moral tell.

From me


This is me Photograph: Yann Traboulsi

Nasri Atallah is a British-Lebanese author, publisher and media entrepreneur. You can follow him on Twitter here, Instagram here and Facebook here.

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