Photographer Ghaleb Cabbabé captures the sadness and magic of Lebanon through his lens.
Cabbabé has been all over the world: from South Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Oman, to Vietnam. The artist moved from Beirut to Paris at a young age. Born during the Lebanese civil war, he is no stranger to the sociopolitical complexities of the tiny Mediterranean country.
He went on to train as an architect, and his background, along with his multicultural exposure, imbues the work with an attention to social spaces and a nostalgic sensitivity.
In particular, this visual poetry is prominent in his series Ahlein. For a chaotic, and sometimes dangerous country, Lebanon is often host to a wide range of visitors—from domestic workers, to refugees, to curious Western tourists visiting a relatively liberal part of the Middle East.
In the photo series, Cabbabé captures these residents in their natural habitats: smoking, smiling, singing karaoke, inhabiting their microcosms of a turbulent country that most would choose to avoid.
Aside from a warm and honest look at the ‘strangers’ who found a life in an unexpected place, Ahlein reflects a cultural delight in hosting. A phrase commonly used to greet guests coming into one’s home, the title translates directly to what could be argued as the seminal point of Cabbabé’s photo project: Welcome.