American University of Beirut

Gentrification and Urban Change in Ras Beirut

​​Over the past 150 years Ras Beirut has changed from a sparsely settled farming community to a dense urban neighborhood.  During Lebanon’s Civil War (1975-1990) the neighborhood sustained damage, residents fled, and squatters moved into vacant or underused buildings.  AUB, a major institutional anchor with extensive connections to the neighborhood, turned inward.  Fast forward to the last decade, and neighborhood change has accelerated.  Real estate investors have been attracted by the cosmopolitan ambiance of Ras Beirut, along with the devalued building stock and desirable views of the AUB campus and the Mediterranean sea beyond.  Low and middle-rise buildings are being demolished and replaced with luxury residential towers, owned by Lebanese expatriates and foreigners and often occupied only seasonally.

During the academic year 2013-2014 the Neighborhood Initiative began an ambitious project to address gentrification in Ras Beirut, through a collaborative research with the Cities Programme of the London School of Economics.  To read more on the topic, check out the project’s concept note​.

As part of the research, Abir Sasso-Saksouk examined the regulatory framework for building development in Lebanon.  Her paper may be accessed here​.

In the fall of 2015, project leader Dr. Mona Khechen spent two months at LSE to wrap up the research outputs, and present her work in a public lecture.

The remaking of Ras Beirut: Displacement beyond gentrification​ (Khechen, M. 2018)

For more information, please contact the project leader Dr. Mona Khechen

City Debates 2015 - "Other Gentrifications: Urban Change Beyond the Core"

The Neighborhood Initiative has co-hosted with the AUB Department of Architecture and Design the 2015 edition of City Debates, an annual international conference on pressing urban issues. The theme of the conference is “Other Gentrifications: Urban Change beyond the Core.” Read here Dr. Mona Khechen's introductory remarks to the conference. To find out more about it, check out the City Debates website: (Click here​)

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