Loubna El Amine


22 November 2021

Independence Day

My toddler asked my father about the moon. It was night in Beirut, and the generators were off. My father’s face was lit only by the phone screen. The electricity provider ostensibly follows a schedule but, as he’s a one-man operation, that schedule follows his own: he turns the generator on when he gets up, and off when he goes to bed. The electricity provided by the state is down to a couple of unpredictable hours a day: you have to be home at just the right time to do a load of laundry; private generators don’t give enough power to run a washing machine.

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21 January 2021

In Beirut

Structural conditions – the protections afforded by kin groups, the weakness of state institutions, the state’s being shored up by the international community – make it reasonable to wish for a secular state but to turn to one’s sectarian group for protection, to believe in the law but circumvent it as necessary, to long for change but reject all existing alternatives to the status quo.

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7 August 2020

Clearing the Rubble

It was unimaginable that things could get worse in Lebanon. But they did. Weeks into the country’s worst economic crisis, compounded by the pandemic, 2570 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored in Beirut’s port, exploded on Tuesday. Because the blast was preceded by a fire, phone cameras were already trained on the port when the mushroom cloud went up. Most of the video footage lasts only a couple of seconds before the people taking it are knocked to the ground. Blurry upside-down images follow, to the sound of cries, screams, prayers, metal and glass shattering, walls collapsing. One video I have seen was apparently taken by a man who died from the explosion. The blast has so far killed 137 people, injured 5000, and made 300,000 homeless.

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