jad silisty © 2022

The Coastline of Beirut, at the intersection of the beach and the American University of Beirut (AUB), lies a public but also private beach access area. During the summer, the Municipality of Beirut rents the space and the access to AUB, which ends up used by the university staff, students, and alumni. In winter, while no one rents this beach, it is left for the public. Lebanon is renowned for the privatization of public beaches and their high entrance fees. In general, the country has very few public spaces in cities.
During the winter, the AUB beach flourishes with just regular people of the middle and lower class. They tan, swim, play football, play racket, cards, and share food. The community at that beach during the winter is a big family, young to old.

“I have been coming to this beach for 30 years now. Even on the windy and stormy days, I’d come and spend the day here […] I used to come here every single day after work. Do you see that pool over there? I built it, it is my work”. Says Abou Khodor in the extract of the AUB magazine, in the Arts & Culture section. Article dated back to April 2nd, 2013.
Abou Khodor is a character of extreme charisma and caretaking in shaping, maintaining, and nurturing a familial environment at the beach. “He is like a father to us,” says a young man who goes there regularly.

I had met him on February 14th, 2020. He had recently lost his wife, getting out of shape compared to the merman’s body he had been maintaining and tanning over the past 40 years or so. He is very proud of his pictures. He keeps a collection in his everyday beach bag. “The beach is my remedy,” he says. He has such a charismatic glowing look in his eyes while speaking of faith, God, and Judgement Day. I think it was due to the recent loss of his wife. He was reflecting a lot on death back then.

In 2020, AUB did not rent the beach from the Municipality, because of Covid-19.

On June 4th of that year, I went back to see him. Our merman is back in shape, shaved, with a high moral. He was continuously posing for me to photograph him in bodybuilders’ poses.

I see Abou Khodor be the embodiment of the old generation’s prosperity, one that had lived before the civil war. A generation that had lived with a country’s rich moral and generosity before it got torn apart into many sectarian self-acclaimed ministates by the warlords of 1975 to 1990.