Culture, clubbing and chaos: out with the locals in Beirut

Amid the city’s traffic jams and power cuts, a collaborative vibe among young Beirutis is seeing cutting-edge galleries and bars spring up, along with an emerging LGBTQ scene

‘Life in Lebanon exists on a Samuel Beckett level of absurdity,” actor, writer and poet Dima Matta tells me. We are chatting on the terrace at Onomatopoeia on Jean Jalkh Street; it’s a music hub and NGO where Matta’s storytelling events have become popular with young, culturally aware Beirutis. Matta is referring to a political elite seen as a corrupt, contemptible joke, and to the daily consequences – roads choked with cars, electricity that runs for only a few hours a day, a bribery culture, and so on – of this alleged avarice and incompetence.

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