BOHO BEIRUT: Unearthing Lebanon
When most people think of Beirut, images of the nation’s troubled past often flurry in. Until now. Journalist and author Shirine Saad opens up a new dialogue about the capital city of Lebanon with her deep dive into its culture today, titled, BOHO BEIRUT.
Words: Star Kennedy
Images: Courtesy of Shirine Saad
Boho Beirut: A Guide to the Middle East’s Most Sophisticated City is not your average travel guide. Forget safe havens of tourist hot spots and the occasional language tutorial, Shirine Saad’s book goes deeper. It’s an insider’s look into Beirut today; its architectural modernity, its emerging music and thriving art scenes, the food, the fashion and lifestyle of a new class of citizens ready to put Beirut on the map. Sure, it might seem like a long stretch for some—especially for those who remember the wars of yesteryear that once afflicted the city for decades and made Beirut the last destination one would hope to travel to—Saad’s exploratory guide of contemporary Beirut gives the city a hopeful spin.
Don’t expect the beautifully-executed, 17-chapter picture book, which provides snapshots of urban living including tips, inspirational moments and artistic influences, interviews and exclusives with the city’s new cultural brass, to feel as if it is written in spite of all that has occurred in the region. Nor does it rely heavily on its murky history to drag you along. Instead, Saad uses the pain of the past as a framework from which to build upon; onwards and upwards to a city reimagined by the 20 and 30-somethings currently living there and pushing culture forward by any means necessary.
“In recent years the generation that had grown up in Lebanon or abroad during the war is determined to contribute to their country’s future,” Shirine Saad said. “They are creating a new energy, mixing local traditions and the skills acquired throughout their travels, and collectively redefining the country’s new identity.”
Just like every other metropolitan city with a good stead of young people, Beirut is on the rise. And while the city is not without its flaws, also like any other point on the globe, what Saad’s book insists mainly is that this is the new world order; a time when the oft-ignored or unrecognized constituents of the world can positively begin to be heard and seen through their the eyes of their creative prowess. Simply said by the author, “Beirut is buzzing with innovation. I wanted to share that energy with the world.”