Beirut. A city that has been on many of our minds in recent weeks and months. A city that has, throughout its history, been a meeting ground of cultures, ideas and, often, clashes and revolution. Beirut. A ‘sister city’ of sorts to Damascus, with its shared histories, geographies and experiences. It is Beirut which we explore in our second city-focused issue, a city that both nurtures and exasperates the creative talent that resides within it.

Many of the Syrian artists living in Beirut whom we feature in this issue have also been both invigorated and frustrated by the recent protests there: enlivened by the spirit of change, yet frustrated that this was not their fight. Several were out in the streets with their Lebanese brethren, including Sleeping With the Enemy, whom we profile here.

The issue begins with a trio of short essays by Saleh Barakat, Mouna Atassi and Abdullah Alkafri – together, they provide a multi-dimensional view of the at times symbiotic relationship between Beirut and Damascus, two cities who give and take in turn.

We also interview Anas Al Braehe on the psychology of colour and feature a personal essay by Mohammed Khayata, who speaks about his experience moving to and settling in Beirut. Mohamed Al Mufti talks us through a selection of his fantastical, architectural and symbolically-laden paintings, as does Azza Abo Rebieh, whose new works build on her dramatic etching technique, now crafted out of tulle and string.

Furthermore, we are delighted to announce the winner of our open call for essays on Syrian artists in Paris as Nour Asalia. Her essay will feature in the next issue of The Journal, and marks the first of our bi-annual writers prize. Read more about it here.