Beirut Is Dying

The Traditional Lebanese House Is Endangered.

Every one of those homes has a story to tell. They are often stories of heartbreaks and nostalgia. Beirut hurt them in many ways with its wars and instability, but what is truly destroying them today is that money is proving stronger than their lifelong struggle to preserve their dignity.

We are the keepers of the memory of Beirut. The city we grew up in, invested in, fought and died for is beauty. It is worth preserving. After all, these are our streets and we have right of say.

In the name of our History, we are calling for the following reforms in the current legislation:

First, there is an urgent need to reform the law of old rents to protect and support the owners of traditional houses and buildings.

Many renters have been in their apartments for decades and are paying derisory rent. Note that the current legislation does not allow for the reevaluation of rent according to inflation.

While the renters are an essential part of Beirut’s urban cohesion, they often allow their children to inherit the lease without previous notification of the owner and keep the rent at the same price indefinitely. Meaning that in the current situation, when an old renter lives in a house, he and his descendants are allowed to remain in the house indefinitely, leaving the owner homeless and helpless.

An update of the legislation should stop this practice. This would allow the current residents to live their golden years in their homes, and yet, guarantee that the owners regain their houses one day.

This is why the families who built Beirut, the creators and keepers of its memory, are being displaced.

Second, we are calling for the creation of a rehabilitation fund that would be financed through the taxation of new building permits.

This government maintained fund would help finance the maintenance of historical districts.

These funds would allow for the rehabilitation of war‐damaged buildings, keeping them safe, financially viable and beautiful.

There is little doubt that there is great value for the city to maintain its ancient charm by preserving its unique urban architecture.

Third, we are calling for proper and clear zoning that would keep our history safe and permit high‐rises only in areas that are in dire need of urban development.

This delimitation of neighborhoods would force speculation to limit itself to the value of a building rather than the size of a plot of land. By forbidding destruction in traditional areas and limiting the height of new buildings, we would guarantee the preservation of the streets’ historic charm.

We are in a state of emergency:

Whole stretches of Gouraud Street, Mar Mikhael and Lebanon Street are currently threatened by the greed of investors. By the end of this year, we expect several dozen homes and buildings to be reduced to rubble, forever disfiguring our neighborhoods.

We are calling for your support, members of the local and international media, to help us stop the irreversible disappearance of our memory.

As a group, with the cooperation of various institutions, we have already stopped 20 buildings from imminent demolition through official decree. However, their future remains uncertain.

The scope of the destruction has reached an alarming rate. We cannot do this alone anymore.

Every day, Beiruti families are ripped out of their environment in the name of modernity and profit.

This is why we are paying homage to the memory of the buildings and homes that couldn't be saved in Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael.

Our candlelight walk will hopefully shine light on the irreversible damage being done to our beloved Beirut.

So meet us at the entrance of Gemmayze Street on the 25th of September at 6 pm , so we can expose the destruction of our memory to those who refuse (or who cannot) see.

We cannot do this without you.

For more information, please call Mr. Giorgio Tarraf on 03 / 71 62 19, or check the Facebook page of the event: