This is definitely not meant to be a comprehensive post on all the graffiti in Beirut, nor am I going to pretend that I know what I talk about, because milling around the neighbourhood of Hamra for one day should not make me an expert on graffiti in Beirut [certain journalists, take note; this also applies to Cairo].
This blog post is merely to give you a gist of the graffiti styles and themes that I came across in the Hamra area of the AUB: colourful, pop-culture-influenced, funny and heavy on the sarcasm. It was interesting to see the graffiti of Mohamed Gaber made by Lebanese artists on the walls here; there seems to be a Beirut connection, a theory proven by the recent appearance of the Beirut design of the middle finger as a kaf fatima with ‘KHOZ’ underneath here in Cairo in front of Al Ahly Club.
It was also interesting to see the revered Egyptian singing icon Om Kalthoum on the walls, as well as Hosni Mubarak. Perhaps there is also an Egyptian influence on the Lebanese street art scene, just as I noticed the music of Om Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez played everywhere I went. Solidarity with the Palestinian cause and with social movements was clear, as were the social issues of rape and alcoholism.
Having completely fallen in love with Beirut and its people, I was further intrigued by the city’s graffiti, which included a lot of large scale free-hand graffit as well as these stencils. After all, it’s not every day that you see Hello Kitty as Che Guevara, or ET or an angelic woman with a machine gun, or the phrase ‘forever drunk’. Some of this graffiti has appeared in the book Arabic Graffiti by Done Stone.