Since the end of the Lebanese Civil war in 1990 the prominent vision of rebuilding Beirut as a revived pre-war Paris of the Middle East dominated the governance imaginary in Lebanon. Beginning with the government authorized vision of the late prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and not ending with Merkel’s predominantly economic visit to Lebanon this June, which is supposed to have focused on refugee issues, and the surge of international development projects implemented and underway in Lebanon post the refugee crisis reforms, development seems to be the dominant trend.
While novel projects are taking place, the fact remains that development as socio-urban reforms remains over a century old tool in Lebanon initiated by Ottoman and french mandates that treated the city as a territory to intervene on through urban reform. While today voices such as that of the Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil contend that the international community is looking to settle refugees, hence implicitly question the ulterior motives behind such development projects and practices, other concerns regarding development ought to be considered beyond the demographic: Mainly, (1) the place of development as an urban reform tool in today’s cities and (2) whether governments could or not use development reforms as tools through which they derive their legitimacy and the citizen’s consent to their reforms. Read More