Taken from the plane as I was about to land in Beirut, this was my first view of the city known as the Paris of the Middle East. These buildings reminded me of some intricate circuitry or architectural dominoes but not of the elegant colonial and Ottoman architecture that Beirut was once famous for. The truth is that most of it was wiped out during twenty years of civil war while the civil war itself has been conveniently camouflaged by a building frenzy of soulless, high-rise apartments. It’s as if the Paris of the Middle East never existed and the civil war was just a bad dream.

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