While watching these guys flying through the air at the latest car-free day in Beirut, I asked myself:
Would these stunts be as great without the beautiful heritage buildings in the background?
There are so many great things about hosting a car-free day in Beirut, as done yesterday by Discover Mar Mikhael
For one, it allows you to stop and look up at the old buildings, which you can never really do when you are in a car, either zipping around or stuck in traffic: 

Mar Mikhael is full of heritage buildings, on both sides of the main road and throughout the alleys. Appreciating them at events like this might make it harder for the government and private corporations to tear them down, which they are trying desperately to do.

 What’s also great about this event is that–in addition to rollerblading– it encourages other anti-polluting forms of travel:

As well as street artists and street performers, which are banned in other parts of town:

Even the police showed some interest:

The car-free day also made possible open-air street markets or souks, most of which have been wiped out of the capital by developers.

There were even free beverages:

Easy there, cowboy:

These kind of events have happened before but they don’t get much coverage in both local and Western press, at least nowhere near as much as politicians’ speeches or random acts of violence. And yet positive events can be just as significant–if not more so– impacting the thousands of people who participate in them in lasting, subtle ways. 
I salute the organizers for creating an inclusive and affordable outing, which is unfortunately becoming rare in Beirut. Let’s hope more of these events can be held in other parts of the city and country.
  1. Thank you Habib 🙂 That is such a nice article. It pays off all the hard work we at Urban Art did 🙂 seeing all the people happy, smiling, laughing and just enjoying a day in the sun was incredible. We hope to be able to have another car-free day in a new neighborhood soon. Have a great Day – Josyane BOULOS Managing partner Urban Art.

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