2023 – Beirut, Lebanon
About this series
If seaside promenades could talk, Beirut’s Corniche would have plenty to narrate. Once buzzing with careless beachgoers and Mediterranean waves, the boardwalk has been witness to everything from civil war to broken dreams.
It’s hard not to notice the group heavily tanned men, young and old, congregating around what appears to be an infinity pool backdropped by snow-capped mountains and freshly built skyscrapers.
They talk about their love for the sun and sea. Some apply tanning oils, others prefer carrot creams. Some shave their legs, others boast hairy chests. Some play racquetball, others bet on cards. Some worship the Prophet, others swear by Jesus. There’s no right or wrong, no one is judging. They feel free here, on the edge of their broken country.
In a multi-confessional city, several generations come together for a swim, a laugh, or just to pass the time they have plenty of. « No storm, no hail, no conflict can keep me away from this place », says Abu Khodr, 85, the eldest among them who says to have never missed a day of swimming for the past 40 years.
While some of the jobless youngsters next to him look with glistening eyes at planes flying overhead, dreaming of a golden visa that will take them away from their country’s misery, the blue-eyed quips with wise elegance, « I’ve never been happier anywhere else. It’s paradise here. »