The public sector in Beirut is weak, to say the least. Services and resident rights are, if extant, unprotected or inoperative. Yet some fragments of the citys builtscape remind us that the public sphere has at one point manifested iteself spatially in the city. Today, these spaces remain empty, unused or awaiting their demise.
The narrative of the old manara is a case in point. As a child living in its surroundings it always intrigued me. The black and white stripes, which seemed to climb up to the sky and project beams of light to guide vessels, I could never see in the waters, was almost magical. No building in the direct vicinity of the lighthouse on the hill could be constructed that would interrupt its projective abilities.
However, in 1995 Mr. Rabih Amish, a private developer, was given permission to construct an 18-floor building in the Al Manara area. The outcome would leave a wall in front of Beirut’s lighthouse destroying its functionality.
This event, which destroyed public infrastructure in the interest of private beneficiaries became a symbol of the Lebanese government’s demise.
The following is a photo essay depicting the nearlly 200 year old monument’s transformation on Beirut's seafront.