Posted by: r.m. | April 7, 2009

Shall we still call it ‘Hamra’? … la wein ya Beirut?

A few days ago, I wrote about an employment announcement on Hamra street written in English – without a word of Arabic – and requesting that the staff speak English, and possibly French – with no mention of Arabic.

Well, yesterday, I went to have a drink with my friends at the new pub – Ferdinand – also on Hamra street.  I walk in and ask for a table for four.  The response? Please, says the blonde waitress in an English heavy with a French accent, I don’t speak Arabic.

Is it too much to ask that staff speak the official language of the country? I complained to my friend.

Well, in the US, you do find staff that don’t speak English, she said.

Yes, but those restaurants are found in communities that are predominately Latino where Spanish is the language spoken by almost everybody. Is that where we are headed to here, in Hamra? Shall Arabic become an optional language, and English the predominate language?

Already, we eat at pretend-Italian or French restuarants and find Lebanese cuisine in exotified restaurants, rather than the other way around. Already, we are given menus in either English or French – or both – but rarely with Arabic, even when the meal itself is distinctly local.  Already, all too often, I hear a response in English when I ask a question in Arabic. (I don’t return to those restaurants.) What’s next?

welcome to Hamra. Or, shall we now call it –  The Red?

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Responses

  1. Maybe you didn’t notice that the waitress is french.
    and she recently moved to Lebanon because she fell in love with our country.
    Might I point out to you that Hamra is a hub for multiculturalism. You meet people from different countries and backgrounds. and that’s what gives it’s character.

  2. Yes, it was clear that the waitress was (is) French – but her nationality is irrelevant, as is the reason she is in Lebanon.

    The issue is quite a simple: where is the Arabic language in Lebanon? And, particularly, where is the Arabic language in Hamra?

  3. I get your point and I sometimes feel the same way (especially when my French boss hires French interns who do not speak Arabic to work for a Lebanese media).

    But I also value our multiculturalism. Your post is in English… does it make it any less Lebanese

  4. I get your point and I sometimes feel the same way (especially when my French boss hires French interns who do not speak Arabic to work for a Lebanese media).

    But I also value our multiculturalism. Your post is in English… does it make it any less Lebanese?

  5. Hello from Adelaide in South Australia. I googled Hamra & found this.
    The reason I googled Hamra was that i thought it was Lebanon
    as i just purchased a beautiful many colours of blue, silk gorgette
    scarf from an Op Shop & it has Hamra printed on the label, which is printed on the scarf along with Mor (t?) ada or Moriada.
    Have been a follower of Kahlil Gibran since the year dot…all his books at one stage. Helped my get thro’ a prison sentence in Belgium in the late 70’s. Let’s call the crime tax evasion. I wrote his sayings alll over the cell door in texta’s.

    Love to Lebadon xx

  6. So i have a beauteous blue scarf from Hamra in my possesion.
    This is deep & meaningful:)
    Cute….i’ll think of you when i wear it & hope your country regains
    it’s former glory once again.
    Make yourself a tax haven like Monaco or Switzerland.
    Forget the Politics & go for the Money Shelter.
    Turn the Lights back on…………………………..and appreciate
    French waitresses, we do in Oz, drool in fact!


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