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CITY STORIES / Three Beirut residents offer an insider’s view of the city

It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, known for its traditional food and hot temperatures. But what’s it really like to live in Lebanon’s capital? Three residents share their insights and edit the new season below.

Sophia Abi Chahine, jewellery designer and owner of Sophia Beirut

‘Beirut is a wonderful chaos – a place where we value art, culture, freedom and differences. It is also a place where big families gather around a Lebanese lunch every Sunday, as tradition would have it. It’s my home. It’s where I grew up to have an opinion, a voice, to have passion, ambition and creativity. It is where I fell in love for the first time, where I met my closest friends and where I learned that, having lived in Beirut, I would be OK anywhere in the world. These photos were taken in Mar Mikhaël – I love this area. It’s crowded and imperfect, but it’s also full of life. This location represents everything I like about my city: freedom, art, togetherness and happiness.’ In shot: Sophia wears bag by Miu Miu.

Lea Hadidian, model

‘To me, Beirut is a combination of many different aspects that come together to make a unique city: from the multicultural background of its inhabitants to the diverse landscapes, including the mountains and beach. Due to the city’s small size, the majority of people are friendly and know one another; this makes the environment welcoming to everyone. As for the traditional cuisine? It’s offered in numerous popular restaurants, but the most authentic spots are those hidden in the streets deep within the city. As an Armenian, if I were to pick a place that people don’t know about, I would choose Ghazar Bakery in Bourj Hammoud. It’s a hidden gem with authentic Armenian food. Make sure you order the tahinov hatz (Armenian tahini bread), which is filled with layers of sesame paste, sugar and cinnamon. A taste that’s unexplainable unless you’ve tried it. Oh, and don’t count the calories.’ In shot: Lea wears blazer and trousers by Tibi.

Jay J, stylist

‘I was born in Beirut and I’ve lived here my whole life. My city is my home, my only home. If you come, you should check out Titus. It is a space for workshops, to exchange expressions, and share experiences and unusual events. The Titus house is a gallery of objects and unique pieces from this time and elsewhere. Beirut is a beautiful mess, and to some people it may be chaotic, but to me it is comfort. There is always something happening here to inspire me.’ In shot: Jay wears shirt dress by Jacquemus.

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