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Beirut’s Historic Hamra Street No Longer Cultural Epicenter

Once an epicenter for Arab and Lebanese intellectuals, Beirut’s famous Hamra Street has in recent decades been transformed by consumption-oriented establishments.
People sit in a coffee shop in Hamra street in Beirut January 24, 2011. Lebanon was plunged into political crisis after Hezbollah and its allies walked out of caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's unity government on Jan. 12 in a dispute over still-confidential indictments by a U.N.-backed tribunal which is investigating the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri, the premier's father. Picture taken January 24, 2011. REUTERS/Sharif Karim  (LEBANON - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTXX13K

A few years back, a group of Beiruti intellectuals from different sects and areas gathered in Modka Cafe on Hamra Street to protest the owner’s decision to close the cafe due to financial hardship. They felt the decision would be harmful to the culture and memory of the place, which had served as a venue for major cultural events. They even called on the Lebanese Ministry of Culture to save the cafe. Eventually Modka was shut down, and the trend continued. Other cafes as culturally valuable as Modka shuttered their doors as well.  

Beirut’s Champs-Élysées

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