A neighbour, a person living by our side. We may differ in manners and ideas of how things should be done, but we will always stay closely connected.

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Wherever we are in the world – home or away, in the place we were born or somewhere else – there will always be someone next door. A neighbour, a person living by our side. We may differ in manners and ideas of how things should be done, but we will remain closely connected – because borders and walls, bushes and fences from metal or wood, connect us more than keep us apart.

Lebanon, bordered on one side by the Mediterranean and on the others by olive, orange and wheat fields, may have complicated, if not outright thorny, official relations with its neighbours today. But the relationships nurtured by people are different. By their very essence they traverse borders, and connect what is on one side with the other.

There is also a distinct neighbourly culture within Lebanon, which connects people living in the same street or building: a culture of chatting, sharing and helping one another. Some might argue that this is fading away with time; that close neighbourly relations are something of the past. Either way, there seems to be an inherent nostalgia associated with the concept of neighbours, and we are interested in finding out its current relevance.

The seven stories in this series on Neighbours, all written or produced by former participants to our workshops on journalism and writing, set out to do that.


First out is the tender memory of Sarah Khazem of early morning rituals with a temporary next-door neighbour; following that is Abby Sewell’s conversations with Syrian activists on the revolutionary events in Lebanon. Layla Yammine’s meeting with an antiques dealer in Beirut’s Basta neighbourhood comes third; fourth is Andrea Olea’s notes of kitchen conversations with two Palestinian friends.

Hamoud Mjeidel then takes us to the families residing in Umm Ali’s building in Shatila, and Ghadir Hamadi invites us to hear her family history spanning Lebanon and the Gulf. Rayan Sukkar and Samih Mahmoud, finally, brings us voices from those who may be considered neighbours of the ongoing Lebanese uprising.



Umm Ali’s building 12.03.20 — Hammoud Emjedel SocietyUrban change Beirut

In Shatila, the simple building of Umm Ali is bringing together families from Palestine, Lebanon and Syria to stay under its roof.

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Love thy neighbourhood 10.03.20 — Ghadir Hamadi Society Beirut Riyadh

From South Lebanon to Beirut and Saudi Arabia, then back to Beirut again: the journey of Ghadir and her family, navigating between neighbourhoods that are similar and different at the same time.

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Breaking through the wall 06.03.20 — Andrea Olea Rights & dissentSociety Beirut

As a point of transit, Lebanon has allowed many neighbours condemned to never meet each other to become friends. Iman and Nida, from Gaza and the West Bank, are two of them.

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The wonderful world of antiques 03.03.20 — Layla Yammine Culture Beirut

In Beirut’s Basta neighbourhood, an antiques dealer from Damascus has created a world of artefacts and objects from the past.

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A bittersweet revolution 27.02.20 — Abby Sewell Rights & dissent Beirut

For some Syrians, the Lebanese uprising seemed like a second chance for the pro-democracy movements that quickly deteriorated after 2011.

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The next-door neighbour 25.02.20 — Sarah Khazem Society Beirut

The tale of two neighbours, brought together by chance (and involving a Communist wartime memoir), and their morning coffee rituals.

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“I support all revolutions” 16.03.20 — Samih Mahmoud, Rayan Sukkar Rights & dissent Beirut

People of many nationalities live in Lebanon. What is their position on the revolution?

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عالم الأنتيكا 04.03.20 — Layla Yammine Culture Beirut

وجدت في البسطة التحتة عالماً من الانتيكا ورحلات فريدة عبر الزمن من نافذة كلّ متجرٍ صغيرٍ زرته

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بناية أم علي 12.03.20 — Hammoud Emjedel SocietyUrban change Beirut

“بدون الذاكرة لا توجد علاقة حقيقية مع المكان”

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