How Beirut will kill us

Beirut made by Tania Shoukair

Beirut is far from being a dead shallow city. Beirut has a soul. Beirut has a heart. Beirut’s history is like the one of a human being: With good times and bad times, with memories and hopes. Beirut has always been patient… And we, as greedy as we are, have taken advantage of her patience.

The time will come, when Beirut will not welcome us anymore. We have offended her to the point where she will turn against us and take her revenge. It will cost us our lives.

Like insurance brokers, we have put prices on every body part of Beirut. She’s so attractive and appealing that everybody is after a piece of her…and the prices went skyrocketing.

The state, not even capable to find a cure for its own endless list illnesses barely looked after her.

Many developers who only cared for their pockets, are erasing Beirut’s old memories to put empty new ones instead. She used to look at every old house and tale the stories of the families that built them and live inside them. Skyscrapers? They are cold, empty, soulless with no story and although overpriced, they mean nothing to her.

These tall constructions failing to blend in with the surroundings make her look disfigured. They drain her from energy, adding pressure to the poorly maintained grid, generators are suffocating her to death. Overloaded, Beirut can barely walk. The nightmare doesn’t end here. These constructions are constantly thirsty too! Underground water pressure changes are allowing seawater to enter the fresh water aquifers mainly caused by the excessive extraction of groundwater from wells.

Are we aware that the water used in mixing concrete for construction has to be as good as drinking water for the safety of the building? Earthquakes? Who cares!

This urban “growth” is driving the number of cars coming into Beirut increase, creating more traffic! When Beirut wakes up in the morning, she feels acid, when she tries to go for a walk in the late afternoon, she’s crippled. She doesn’t even have a green place to breathe, to walk and play!

Beirut stayed silent for too long. She hoped that we would help her get back her looks and health.  We disrespected her and treated her like a short-term investment instead.

Beirut will take her revenge with our own waste using the worst and most dangerous way: the overflowing of sewage on the streets. Exposure can cause a myriad of diseases of the worst kind as well as as contamination of groundwater. We will get severely sick. She will wish we stop breathing and die.

Beirut has rights. Beirut demands respect and caring for her well being. Beirut needs to be HONESTLY loved.

I’m definitely not saying that there is one problem more important that the other: urban planning, laws, electricity, water,  sewage, traffic, and many others are making Beirut a bad city to live in. Who wants to live there when nothing works anyway?

A couple of people like “Save Beirut Heritage” ans APSAD, and others from different specialties ranging from hydro-geologists to history teachers to architects and engineers, heard her cry and tried to talk with the state. And boy, they know way much better can be done!

The problem can easily be extrapolated to different extents in all Lebanon.

Dear country, we do not deserve you.

Check Tania Shoukair’s work on Deviant Art.

7 thoughts on “How Beirut will kill us

  1. Up until the last part (where it sounded like you were making a promotion for the NGOs) that post was awesome. It’s good to mention the people who are working hard on these issues, I guess I would’ve just preferred you had gone about it in a different way without breaking the flow of your post.

    I tend to be sympathetic to the Beirut heritage issue, but I can’t be this aggressive against “cold and soulless” skyscrapers. They’re the newcomers, they don’t have a history yet, they probably need to make their own. It’s the lack of urban planning that makes them look out of place. Yes, some of them are ugly abominations, but generalizing to all new (tall) buildings won’t get us anywhere. Beirut can have both the old and the new. What’s missing is the harmony, what’s problematic is the lack of the respect for the old, and the aggressive replacement with the new.

    On that note, you should check how we treat our elderly people, how people over 40 get fired from their jobs to be replaced with younger employees. Maybe there’s a clue there as to why we mistreat Beirut so much.. Maybe after all we’re just cold and soulless people, and we’re building a new Beirut that reflects our image. Off with the old and on with the new..

    • I only meant to point the very few who decided to do something about it. I think that there is a better way for skyscrapers to blend in. Some developers are actually doing it: Making the old buildings a part of the new ones. That’s the only way harmony can be achieved. Old and new can co-exist.

      Thank you for the editing suggestion. I took it into consideration. Check it out!

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