I wrote about the housing rights movement in Lebanon, and the controversial rent law for Middle East Eye. This is a topic that really matters to me; the right to housing, the issue of gentrification, and the overall neoliberal project in Lebanon is often ignored in the interest of lazy or orientalist analysis based on Lebanon's confessionalist system. it was inspiring, yet heartbreaking, to see these senior citizens get on the streets and fight for an equitable rent law. Moreover, in the future, it's going to be scary to see what Beirut looks like. With the banks giving real estate companies a blank cheque, Beirut will be cleansed of whatever culture and social identity it once had. It's a huge cause for concern. I'm also very inspired by the few architects and urban planners who are working in solidarity with these people - I'd like to mention Nadine Bekdache and Abir Saksouk from Public Works Studio.
The elephant in the room in the rent controversy is Lebanon’s booming real estate industry.
“We aren’t against [property] owners; on the contrary, we see them as allies against the real estate giants and the [current] government,” Karam said.
“Once they [the government] is done with us, the real estate giants will knock them out next - mark my words!”
Downtown Beirut was once a buzzing district with trade and markets that brought people from all socioeconomic classes together from across the country.
The post-civil war reconstruction process was spearheaded by the late prime minister Rafic Hariri and his real estate company, Solidere, which took the reins of the process in 1994.
Read the full article here.