Category Archives: Art

A New Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art Due To Open in Beirut by 2020

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muu The site of the future museum – Picture by Roger Moukarzel

Back when I wrote about the new Aishti contemporary museum opening soon, I mentioned that there were talks about building a huge museum of Modern and contemporary Lebanese art in central Beirut by 2020 and that Tony Salamé, Zaha Hadid (who unfortunately died recently), Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones of London’s Serpentine Galleries were involved.

It appears that the project has moved a step closer to becoming a reality with the announcement of the shortlisted architects for the project:

109 Architectes s.a.r.l.
Bernard Khoury / DW5
Hashim Sarkis Studios, LLC
HW architecture
ibda design
IDC / Verner Johnson / ETEC SA
L.E.FT Architects
Lina Ghotmeh / DGT Architects
Najjar Najjar Architect
Raëd Abillama Architects / Nadim Khattar
WORK Architecture Company (WORKac)
Yatsu Chahal Architects (YCa) / Said Jazari Consulting Office (SJCO)
Youssef Tohme Architects and Associates (YTAA)

The winner will be announced this autumn and the 2,780 square meter museum is due to open by 2020. As far as the location is concerned, it will be close to the National Museum as shown in the picture above and “representatives from the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (Apeal), the non-profit organisation behind the museum, have already signed a long-term lease agreement with the Université Saint Joseph for the site”. The museum will be funded through a private fundraising campaign.

Needless to say, I’m glad we’re getting a new museum but if the parking lot is being transformed into a museum, and knowing the area, no one would be able to visit it or the National Museum because there’s no place to park anywhere near. I hope they’re considering underground parking or other alternatives.

For those interested, you can follow the progress on [A museum in the making] website.

Thank you Sana!

Museums Night Was Great, But …

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Eleven museums were taking part in the 3rd edition of “Museums Night” (“La Nuit des Musees”) yesterday and opening their doors from 5 PM till midnight. The tours started at 5 sharp and free shuttle service was available for museums in Beirut every 30 minutes at specific stops.

I was a speaker at Talk20 yesterday at AUB so I thought it would be a good idea to drop by a couple of museums around 9-10 PM that way traffic wouldn’t be that bad. The first stop was at the National Museum and I was surprised to see so many people queuing to enter the museum, and the queues were as big for Nicolas Sursock and MIM, Le Musée des Minéraux in Achrafieh. I was positively surprised by the turnout and it was great seeing all these families and more importantly children eager to be part of that night but the overall experience could have been much better for 4 key reasons:


1- Timing was bad: “La Nuit des Musees” should have been on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon rather than a Friday night. Traffic was hell and it took me an hour to get from AUB to Sursock at around 9 PM.

2- No Parking spaces: I think no one expected that many people to show up but parking lots and transportation should have been better organized. I ended up parking 1K away from the National Museum and walked mostly on the highway (no side walks) to get there.

3- No Lines & Not enough security guards: Our museums hold very unique and rare historical pieces that should not be touched by any visitor but that wasn’t the case yesterday and the blame is first on the parents and second on the lack of guards. I wasn’t as pissed as Patyl on that matter but seeing all these kids (with their parent’s approval) put their fingers on a 2,000-year-old piece was quite frustrating.

4- The smell: No one is to blame here but our rotten government (not the Ministry of Culture though). The garbage smell was terrible, just terrible!


All in all, I think last night was a great success and I’m really glad a lot of Lebanese took part in it. We need more initiatives like this and on a more regular basis.


PS: Pictures via Jimmy

Museums Night 2016: Visit Lebanon’s Museums For Free

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National Museum

The Ministry of culture is organizing the 3rd edition of “Museums Night” this Friday the 8th of April from 5 PM till midnight. Museums will open at night and will be free for all visitors. I love the initiative as it sheds the light on the beautiful museums we have and encourages Lebanese to visit them.


Here are the museums taking part in this event:

Musée Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock – Nicolas Sursock Museum
Address: Rue Sursock, Achrafieh
Opening Time: 6 PM till Midnight

Musée National de Beyrouth – Beirut National Museum
Address: Mathaf, Damascus Road
Address: 5 till 11 PM
national m

MIM, Le Musée des Minéraux – Minerals Museum
Address: Campus de l’innovation et du sport, Université Saint-Joseph
Address: 5 till 11 PM

Musée de Préhistoire Libanaise de l’Université Saint-Joseph
Address: Rue de l’Université Saint-Joseph, quartier Monnot
Address: 5 till 11 PM

You can check out more pics [here].

Villa Audi
Address: Rue St Nicolas, Achrafieh
Address: 5 till 11 PM
villa audi

Musée Archéologique de l’AUB – AUB Archaeological Museum
Address: Université Américaine de Beyrouth , Ras Beyrouth
Address: 5 till 10 PM

Musée de la Banque du Liban – Central Bank Museum
Address: Locaux de la Banque du Liban, Sanayeh
Address: 5 till 11 PM

You can check out more pictures [here].

Musée du Savon – Soap Museum
Address: Rue Moutran, Saïda
Address: 5 till 11 PM

Musée « Aram Bezikian » des orphelins du Génocide Arménien
Address: Byblos (Jbeil)
Address: 5 till 11 PM
jbeil armenien Picture Credits: L’orient Le Jour

Musée Pépé Abed
Address: Byblos (Jbeil)
Address: 5 till 10 PM

pepe museum

You can find more pictures [here].

Musée ethnographique de l’Université de Balamand
Address: Koura
Address: 5 till 11 PM


Free Shuttle service is available for museums in Beirut every 30 minutes at the below stops :


Google is Celebrating Iconic Arab Poet Nizar Qabbani

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nizar-qabbani's-93rd-birthday-4-hires (1)

Google is celebrating Nizar Qabbani’s 93rd through a series of four different doodles. Nizar Qabbani, considered the titan of Arab literature, is one of the most revered contemporary poets in the Arab world. The doodles depict different periods in the poet’s life during which he wrote some of his most celebrated works, one of them being Beirut of course.

The illustrations are also inspired from Nizar Qabbani’s poems; such as the jasmine flowers from his garden in Damascus and the palm trees that lined Baghdad during his time there. Arab nationalism, love and feminism were among the most popular topics he wrote about, noting that he worked as a diplomat.

Qabbani had a special passion for Beirut and established his own publishing house here. He left it in 1981 after his wife, an Iraqi woman named Balqis al-Rawi, was killed in an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Beirut.

For those of you who haven’t read any of Qabbani’s poems, you probably heard them in songs as many were incorporated into lyrics by some of the most renowned Arab singers such Fairouz, Abdel-Halim Hafez, Majida el Roumi, Um Kalthoum, Kazem el Saher and others …

One of his most popular Beirut poems is “يا ست الدنيا يا بيروت” that became a post-war hit song by Majida al-Roumi.





Tripoli’s Fayha Choir Won “Choir of The Year” in Dubai

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choir Photo Credits: Natheer Halawani

The Fayha Choir, from Tripoli Lebanon, won during the weekend “The Choir of The Year” award at the Choir Fest Middle East 2016. ChoirFest Middle East is an annual festival in Dubai that features performances by choirs of all musical traditions. Its aim is to “nurture the choral scene of the Middle East by recognizing and supporting the music of both non-western and western choral traditions and providing wider public access to choirs from difficult or inaccessible locations.”


The Fayha Choir was founded in 2003 and is composed of nearly 50 members, Tripoli and suburbs citizens. The choir is conducted by Maestro Barkev Taslakian and its program includes Lebanese, oriental, as well as French, English, Latin, Armenian and other songs.The Fayha Choir has performed in more than 10 countries so far, including Abu Dhabi, Armenia, Poland, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, France, Canada and others. They have also won 2 first prizes at the “International Warsaw Choir Festival 2007: Best choir & Best conductor and are officially part of the “International Federation for Choral Music” (IFCM).

Congrats to all members of the Fayha Choir!




Here’s an exclusive video showing one of the performances by The Fayha Choir at the Choir Fest. The song is Philemon Wehbe’s Sanferyan.


All pictures and the video were taken by Natheer Halawani.

Qahwetna: A Cultural Café Between Jabal Mohsen & Beb el Tebbeneh

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qahwetna Picture via Reem Kaedbey

After bringing together last year young men and women from Bab el Tebbeneh & Jabal Mohsen to create and prepare for a comedy play inspired by their lives, and following the resounding success of the play and the documentary that followed, MARCH felt the need to keep up the momentum of this conflict resolution exercise and inaugurated Qahwetna: a cultural café founded on the former fighting line (Syria Street) between the two areas, where ” events such as other plays, stand-up comedy gigs, rap sessions and other expressive art forms can find a platform in the neglected conflict areas in Tripoli”.

Caféقهوتنا كفك ب (1)

The Cultural Café is a much needed space for young people to interact around peaceful ideas,
have fun, and enjoy themselves. The ultimate aim is to unite the people of Jabal Mohsen and Beb el Tebbeneh around peace values, art and culture. It is also a reminder that the problems in Tripoli are not stirred or generated by fanaticism or extremism, but it’s the lack of opportunities and under-development that is suppressing any hope for the youth, leading them to resort to violence

I am visiting Tripoli in the next couple of weeks and my first stop will be at Qahwetna. I hope we will see more cultural cafes in other areas of conflict. Thumbs up to MARCH and everyone involved in this project, mainly the British Embassy for funding and supporting the whole thing!

coffee Cafe bi Kaffak 🙂


ASHEKMAN Gift Snoop Dogg An Arabic Calligraffiti Portrait

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snoop dog Snoop Dogg taking a shot of his portrait

Lebanese street artists and ASHEKMAN founders Omar and Mohamed Kabbani gifted American rapper Snoop Dogg a calligraffiti portrait. The portrait was handed to the West-coast rapper by DJ BASE and will be hung in Snoop Dogg’s main studio in Los Angeles!

ASHEKMAN brothers have been covering Beirut’s walls with amazing graffiti murals since 2001, have come up with a couple of awesome Arabic rap songs and started their own urban fashion line few years ago. They are among the most talented street artists in the region and it’s pretty cool to see their work displayed in Snoop Dogg’s offices in LA.

snoop dog2

Via Gino

Uniting Bab el Tebbeneh & Jabal Mohsen In A Play: The Story Behind This Tripolitan Tale

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Four months ago, MARCH Lebanon brought together young men and women from Bab el Tebbeneh & Jabal Mohsen to create and prepare for a comedy play inspired by their lives. The play entitled “Love and War on a rooftop” was written and directed by Lucien Bou Rjeily and it turned out to be a huge success and an inspiring story for all the Lebanese. The play showed us that these two communities don’t hate each other and these divisions are only in our heads, that they are paying the price of poverty and corruption and more importantly that we can break barriers between different sects and communities in the easiest way possible.


Now for those who are wondering how this play came to be, and how MARCH and the concerned parties were able to bring these young people together to play the lives of 16 ex-fighters Jabal Mohsen and Bab El Tebbeneh, MARCH is releasing “Love and War on the Rooftop – The Documentary” that will be screened on 10-11-12 November 2015 @ 8pm at CINEMA EMPIRE METROPOLIS SOFIL CENTER, Beirut. We obviously need more conflict resolution projects like this one as they help break barriers and bring Lebanese from different sects and communities together and I salute MARCH and these young men and women for their efforts.

Check out the trailer, it looks very promising and I hope I see you all there in a couple of weeks!

For those who need further info on the play or documentary, contact MARCH: or 78-836788

New Aïshti Complex In Jal el Dib To Open On October 25

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For all those who have been wondering about the new Aïshti Complex on the Jal el Dib highway, this is the new building for the The Aïshti Foundation and it’s opening on October 25. The Aïshti Foundation is part of a 35,000 square-meter complex that will include fashion boutiques, a curated bookshop, restaurants, cafes, a spa and a rooftop bar with an amazing sea view. More importantly, it will include one of the largest contemporary art museum in the region. In fact, the huge complex which was designed by Adjaye Associates will be dedicated to presenting contemporary art exhibitions and artworks from the 2,000-strong private collection of Tony Salamé, CEO of Aïshti.

Aishti Foundation rendering south-west view

A Contemporary art museum designed by British architect David Adjaye

The opening exhibition will be organised by Massimiliano Gioni, the artistic director of the New Museum in New York and will feature more “than 100 works by international contemporary artists including, among others: Etel Adnan, Ziad Antar, Tauba Auerbach, Agostino Bonalumi, Carol Bove, Kerstin Brätsch, Daniel Buren, Enrico Castellani, Urs Fischer, Wade Guyton, Camille Henrot, Glenn Ligon, Lucy McKenzie, Giuseppe Penone, Gianni Piacentino, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Seth Price, R.H. Quaytman, Gerhard Richter, Pamela Rosenkraz, Rayanne Tabet, Wolfgang Tillmans, Kari Upson, Andra Ursuta, Christopher Wool, Danh Vo, Charline Von Heyl, Michael Williams and Akram Zaatari among many others”. More than 4,000 square meters of exhibition space will be offered in the new building.

Aishti Foundation rendering - Interior

We definitely need more cultural and art centers in Lebanon and what Aïshti is doing is great. There are even talks about building a museum of Modern and contemporary Lebanese art in central Beirut by 2020 that Salamé is also involved in, along with Zaha Hadid (who’s on the jury) and Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones of London’s Serpentine Galleries so let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Here are few renders of the new Aishti complex and check out this drone-filmed 360 degree aerial video.

Aishti Foundation rendering - Aerial Landscape

PS: I was told that Skybar may open on the rooftop but these are just rumors for now.