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Creative Cities: Beirut

BEIRUT - Lebanon - Lebanese art, a table by the sea, and funky vintage clothes (some of them his own) - welcome to local journalist Tarek Chemaly's guide to Beirut.

The most creative museum or gallery

The Sursock Museum is without any doubt the most interesting to me. Its permanent collection is a reminder of how incredible Lebanese art was during the war. The Seta Manoukian work “Wind From the North” is a work I saw when I was 13, during my first visit. The museum has had a major renovation, which took several years, and on my visit after the inauguration I gave a major audible gasp when I saw the work again. The young attendant thought I had a health issue.

The café where you go to read, write or be inspired

Rawda Shatila: You are not a real Beiruti unless you know it – and not all so-called Beirutis do. Pick one of the tables right by the sea. In winter the waves come crashing right next to your aluminum window (which are a recent addition!). In the summer, the breeze is just incredible. Ask for a plate of tormos and mint tea.

A restaurant with a difference

Charbel of Le Chef comes from the same town as I do – his trademark “welcooooome” is so heart-warming! The dishes are basic, but so am I. A rare place where people join across the economic divide, and which trespasses the age split as well.

The most creative neighbourhood

I am not very hipster-friendly, but Mar Mikhael is where the youngsters meet and the new uber cool cafes are. When all else fails, Le Chef is barely 5 minutes’ walk away!

The store(s) you can’t pass without going in

Depot Vente: Only someone as crazy as Nawal (the owner) could host my “funeral” – which was an art installation of all the clothes I could no longer wear because I had turned 40 and they were kind of youngish in look. Nawal sells vintage second-hand clothing, which I love! Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.

The Outlet From Aishti is the remainder store of the city’s most luxurious shop, Aishti. When things go to the outlet they are already 70% discounted, so when the outlet has its own 70% sale it means you can get a Prada cheaper than a Zara!

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