Streets of Hamra

The Beirut Marathon began this morning at 7:30 AM, with perfect weather: a brisk 19/66 degrees with clear skies and dazzling sunlight. Hamra was completely cordoned off, with all cars ordered off the street since last night at 9PM. Amazingly, the Hamrawis obliged.


The rare lull of activity in the streets meant that I was also able to finally snap some pictures of the hilarious graffiti that has been cropping up around the neighborhood. Someone has been spray painting stenciled images with very amusing subjects… I’m not sure who it is. Any ideas?


Clockwise from the top, we have a silhouette of Mickey Mouse with the words “Ni7na ma3ak” (We’re With You) written underneath; the famous profile of Umm Kulthoum singing Haifa Wehbe’s stupid song “Bous el-wawa” (Kiss my boo-boo); and my favorite, a hand of Fatima flipping you the bird with the word “Khodh” .

wordpress stats


22 thoughts on “Streets of Hamra

  1. Brilliant stuff. I love Beiruti graffiti – any chance of some more pictures Qifa?!

    Sasa, the Syria News Wire.

    Posted by Sasa | November 30, 2008, 6:12 am
  2. Hamra was completely cordoned off, with all cars ordered off the street since last night at 9PM. Amazingly, the Hamrawis obliged.

    You mean the police did not go around blaring loud messages until midnight last night???

    The hand is hilarious! I hadn’t seen it before. Thanks!

    A lot of the stencils it seems are by graphic designers, many students. The gay tolerance series is by a student at AUB. Word has it that the migrant stencils on Kennedy Street and the different moods stencils on the way down to Corniche by way of Ein el-Mreisseh staircase are by the people over at Grey.

    Posted by Ms. Tee | November 30, 2008, 6:34 am
  3. The bous el-wawa is probably my favorite, but I’m also fond of all the ones Ms. Tee mentions too. (By the way, you’re the only other person I’ve actually ever heard call it Kennedy St.)

    I feel like graffiti in Beirut has gotten much more sophisticated in the last year or so. There was actually an interesting slideshow of the graffiti scene here.

    (I promise, I won’t make a habit of linking to that site.)

    Posted by sean | November 30, 2008, 10:21 am
  4. the hand, in fact, is most awesome, hadn’t seen that one either. ms. tee, qifa, where exactly are the migrant ones, what’s in them?

    qifa, i feel you really like hamra’s new face of law and order, first the parking meters, now the obedient residents… 🙂

    Posted by Bint Abeeha | November 30, 2008, 12:03 pm
  5. Sasa, I’ll do what I can. 🙂

    Ms. Tee, the police went by just once last night, which was sufficient. Yes, amazing.

    Bint Abeeha, on that note, please stay tuned for the first installment in my latest series of posts, which will document a curious case of cultural colonization…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | November 30, 2008, 12:48 pm
  6. Sean,
    Did I say Kennedy Street? I meant the street going down from Medical Gate, you know, the one with two Sukleen bins on the left hand side.

    Bint Abeeha,
    Sean has a photograph of the migrants here. They are on the rough stretch of wall going down from Medical Gate in the direction of Haykal Center, just before the Ein Mreisseh staircase.

    Posted by Ms. Tee | November 30, 2008, 1:20 pm
  7. Ms. Tee:

    Hahahah, that’s more like it! Once I was giving a friend my mailing address, and she said, wait, stop, I need your address, not instructions on how to get to your house!

    Posted by sean | November 30, 2008, 1:49 pm
  8. Im jealous now, I will miss the Marathon in Beirut, those streets are so clean. And teh graffitti should have included “ya Arab Khudu kulkum”

    Posted by Ali | November 30, 2008, 2:48 pm
  9. QN,

    Glad Hamrawis heeded the call for the Marathon. Looks like a great event.

    BTW, if the first photo is of Hamra st., where was this shot taken at? Back in my days, Hamra st. was asphalt, not cobble stones.

    Back then, the only street that I remember that had cobble stones, was the street hugging the AUB all the way to Manara, where as a little kid we used to take the cable car trolly.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | November 30, 2008, 11:47 pm
  10. Hi Ras Beirut,

    Great to have you here. Yes, Hamra is now cobble-stoned. The AUB street (Bliss) is asphalt! And the trolly is long gone, to the great detriment of our lives.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 1, 2008, 1:27 am
  11. great topic thx

    Posted by haifafans | January 22, 2009, 6:41 pm
  12. Hi. The new graffiti in Hamra was done by some AUB graphic design student called Hamed Sinno, just in case you were wondering.

    Posted by AO | May 1, 2009, 11:58 am
  13. It’s not Graffiti..this art call “Stencil”..

    هنيبعل.. يتسكّع في الأرجاء

    Posted by hanibaael | May 19, 2009, 3:58 pm
  14. Yes, the graff, as someone mentioned, is largely the work of Hamid Sinno – the lead singer of Mashrou3 Leila… fyi…

    Posted by Rima | December 22, 2009, 5:37 am
  15. it’s done by Hamed Sinno! An amazing graphic design student and also a member of ‘Mashrou3 leila’ a brilliant lebanese udnerground band.
    Kudos, hamed!
    You can see him talking about those stencils here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6xgGzBgtaY&feature=related 🙂

    Posted by Shane | May 20, 2010, 3:06 pm
  16. Thanks for the pics. Can anybody please explain the idea behind the hand? Is it an underground movement against the goverment, or is it message from Hezbollah after the invasion of Hamra in May 08 og sometjing else?
    Please no political speeches, just facts. I need to know precisely as I’m planning to get it as a tattoo. Thanks

    Posted by M.O | December 10, 2010, 12:12 pm
  17. haha M.O no, it’s nothing like that. you can see what the hand means here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamsa.
    Sinno basically shows the hand giving the finger. Though I’m not exactly sure why (criticism?)

    Posted by - | December 15, 2010, 3:39 am
  18. to – #18

    Thanks for your answer but I know about the normal khamse, and not this “bird” version.

    I have heraed about The Fatima Brigade, a sub group of the Hezbolla/Amal and wondered if this was their message to the May 08 incidents

    Posted by M.O | December 15, 2010, 1:54 pm
  19. I don’t think it is, I know for a fact that it was made by AUB student\Mashrou’ Leila band member Hamed Sinno as a part of some project he was udertaking. He also made the ones on the picture above. What the pictures have in common is that they’re mostly critical of socio-political trends or pop culture in the arab world, though i’m not exactly sure what the flipping khamse means.

    Posted by - | December 16, 2010, 2:18 am
  20. Many thanks for your reply. As you can understand it’s not very easy to remove or alter a tattoo so this is why I wanted to be sure before making one.
    It seems you know these people whom made it. Is there any way I might get hold of a copy of the stencil? Maybe in some printable format sent to my email?
    Thnak you

    Posted by M.O | December 17, 2010, 8:54 am
  21. إذا توقفنا وفكرنا للحظة، نرى أن مستقبل لبنان لا يبشر بالخير. فبحسب دراسة أجريت في عام 1970، توزع عدد الأشخاص الذي يتنقلون من وإلى بيروت على النحو التالي: 52% من الأشخاص كانوا يتنقلون بسيارات خاصة، 9% كانوا يستقلون الباص، و39% كان يستقلون سيارات الأجرة المشتركة (service) وغير المشتركة. في عام 1994، كانت الحافلات والباصات والفانات وغيرها من السيارات الشبيهة، الخاصة والعامة، تقل نسبة تصل إلى 1.3% من الأشخاص كحدٍ أقصى إلى العاصمة. فإذاً، في خلال 24 سنة، انخفضت نسبة استخدام وسائل النقل المشتركة من 39% إلى 1.3%. ومن عام 1974 إلى عام 1998، ازداد عدد السيارات بنسبة 538%

    The future is grim if we do not stop to think .

    A 1970 study estimated that motorized person trips in Beirut were split as follows:
    52 % by private car;
    9 % by bus;
    39 % by shared (‘service’) and unshared taxis

    It is known that during the war there was no other forms of public transportation other than the shared and private taxis, both of which were automobiles seating four passengers.

    In 1994, buses, vans and similar vehicles, both public and private, transported a maximum of 1.3 percent of all person trips in the Beirut metropolitan area.

    Some recent studies estimated that in 1999
    83 to 90% commuted using private cars
    7 to 10% by bus + shared and unshared taxis

    Cars have therefore increased by 538% from 1974 to 1998

    Join A Car Free Beirut and maybe that picture on the top may become your public park instead of a source of stress and noise


    Posted by SR | November 11, 2012, 6:06 am


  1. Pingback: Tagged Images « Comfort Noise Generator - December 18, 2008

Are you just gonna stand there and not respond?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Browse archives

wordpress stats plugin
%d bloggers like this: