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Lebanon- dabke dancers
Lebanese dancers perform the Dabke rythmic traditional dance, Deir Al Qamar, Lebanon. Photo: RAMZI HAIDAR

Many intellectuals and artists have left Lebanon over the centuries. Each period of violence, each wave of repression by the then occupying power, each (civil) war was followed by a wave of emigration. Hence, the Lebanese arts developed not only in Lebanon itself – where Beirut is probably the most important cultural centre – but also in the countries where émigrés found a second home. Damascus and Cairo and, further away, Paris, London, New York, and Rio de Janeiro are thus also minor Lebanese cultural centres, especially for Lebanese literature and cinema.

In present day Lebanese literature, but also in Lebanese music, film or fine arts, the Civil War (1975-1990) and its aftermath are recurrent themes. Many artists want to remember and document these events and their aftermath, or to fight against the political and religious divisions that led to the war. Moreover, years of violence and destruction left the Lebanese people with a deep hunger for beauty, creativity and artistic ways of expression. From the 1990s, Lebanon has witnessed a wave of artistic expression, but also the founding of various festivals such as the Salon du Livre, the Beirut International Film Festival, or al-Bustan (music) Festival

Further Reading

Lebanese literature is also published in countries with large numbers of Lebanese emigrants. Poetry plays an important part in Lebanese literature. Prominent musicians have written music to traditional poems, and newspapers deem p...
With the rise of Hezbollah, this kind of theatre became more and more important. Today, similar plays are staged in other towns and villages in the region and have been opened to spectators from other regions and other religions. ...
Lebanese music has a distinct sound due to the country’s unique fusion of Western and Eastern influences. Even Lebanese folk compositions often reference Western contemporary music.
Architecture is what mostly remains of Lebanon’s past. Some houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries may still be seen in parts of Tripoli and Beirut. Contemporary architecture is mainly functional and not very different f...
As in almost all other fields, the civil war (1975-1990) is very much present in the works of many Lebanese artists.
Nowadays, textiles are often at least partly synthetic and their production has moved to cheaper countries. Jewellery, once sold by the Phoenician traders on their travels abroad, is still made by local craftsmen.
Yet, politics is only one of the various aspects framing Lebanon’s museum culture. A quick overview of the existing landscape highlights the importance of private initiatives and a significant reliance of cultural heritage prese...
Some argue that the level of academic experience, techniques and skills that the Syrian artists brought with them was much higher than what had previously existed in Lebanon. For example, the Syrians introduced the concept of the ...

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