Launching an Urban Observatory Amidst a Painful and Slow Recovery
One year after the Beirut port blast, we remain in awe at the social mobilization that continues to surround the people in the neighborhoods affected by the explosion. Over 12 months, and amidst devastating, economic, political, and health crises, city-dwellers—organized or not, working side by side with a large array of local and international organizations, are still struggling to repair homes, businesses, schools and hospitals and restore the viability of their city.
The Beirut Blast: A Week On
As we write this short reflection, the Beirut Port’s August 4, 2020 explosion still runs deep shockwaves through every one of us. We are just beginning to absorb the unmeasurable losses that have fallen on our city and its people. Some 2,700 tons of Ammonium Nitrate were callously stored in a port hangar, in close vicinities of residential neighborhoods, for six years. It happened with the full knowledge of successive port authorities, customs’ officials, and many other public officials (and unofficials). They detonated as if to announce the resounding end of an era: Lebanon’s post-civil war corrupt order could not have gone down peacefully. Almost a week later, the city is mourning its dead, young and old, while most rescue teams are discontinuing their efforts to locate the remaining missing people.
Urban Politics in the Arab Region
The Arab Political Science Network (APSN) and The Beirut Urban Lab (BUL) organized a webinar focusing on the latest research and developments in the study of urban politics on October 25th, 2022. The webinar was moderated by the Lab's co-director, Mona Harb, and featured Omar Sirri, affiliated researcher at the University of Toronto, Rafeef Ziadeh, lecturer in politics and public policy at King's College London, and Sarah El-Kazzaz, senior lecturer in comparative politics of the Middle East at SOAS University of London. The invited scholars discussed research focusing on the resilient and changing dynamics and configurations of power in cities and built environments of the Arab region. They also reflected on questions of contestation, representation, and appropriation of urban space among other issues.