Street art is everywhere in Beirut. One of the best areas to discover these colourful images and murals is Hamra, in Ras Beirut. Every piece of art has a story to tell.
I start off at the beginning of Hamra Street near the Akil Bros shop, and less than a block on the right there are two amazing murals. Both came up in early 2019. The first is a portrait of a girl in a red dress, sitting on a bench reading ‘On Revolution’ by philosopher Hannah Arendt. Protesters stand behind her. The artist has managed to cover a dirty old shack which is actually the booth for the parking lot beside it. Look above the parking lot and you’ll find a vast, 25 metre wall covered by a multi-coloured mural of two women. The work is by Elias Zaarour and Karim Tamerji.
I walk further along Hamra Street and above Cafe Rossa is an iconic work by Lebanese artist Yazan Halwani, an 80-foot mural of Lebanese actress and singer Sabah. Hamra was once a key meeting point for artists, intellectuals, writers and other Lebanese intelligentsia, and the mural is a symbol of nostalgia – many Lebanese look back to this era fondly.
What makes Beirut’s street art so unique is that the murals are often painted around bullet holes and buildings pockmarked by the civil war. Other key areas with street art include Gemmayze, Mar Mikhael and Sursock, but watch out for pieces all around the city.