Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The other Beirut

"The point of taking issue with such idealised odes to money and fashion is not to deny the affluence that exists in the city or the comparatively liberal nature of its society. However, the marketing of a Beirut brand of "joie de vivre" that is so blatantly equated with material wealth becomes morally problematic when we acknowledge the glaring economic disparity in the country, visible in the capital itself.
Consider, for example, the aesthetic differences between the refurbished downtown and the overcrowded and neglected Palestinian refugee camps and primarily Shia southern suburbs, where recent infrastructure projects have included the rampant flattening of apartment blocks by the Israeli air force in 2006.
Needless to say, less sanitary aspects of life in Lebanon - such as the enslaved status of many migrants employed in the domestic help sector - have no place in the portrait of Beirut as a paradise of wealth, where tantalising opportunities await foreign visitors and their pocket-books." (thanks Maya)