Insider Guide To Beirut: Nour Salamé, Founder Of Kaph Books
Beirut is one of this year’s hottest travel destinations, with art, food, hotels and nightlife to rival London, Shanghai and New York.
We enlisted the help of local insider, Nour Salamé—whose publishing house Kaph Books has become one of the leading voices in fine art and photography in the Middle East—to suggest some activity for creatives visiting the Lebanese capital.
Don't forget to check out all five of our insider guides to Beirut (links at the end of this article)
“My favourite independent bookstore in Beirut is the cosy, characterful and absolutely charming Papercup, which is tucked away in a quiet street in Mar Mikhael. They have a great selection of art, design, architecture and photography books. It’s a great spot to hang out, relax and meet Beirut’s art crowd. They also make a great chai latte.”
Find out more at papercupstore.com
2/5 Cultural callings
The dying wish of wealthy Lebanese aristocrat and art collector Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock was that his palatial villa be turned into a museum so the public could share his love of the arts. Today, the Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum is one of Beirut’s main cultural attractions, exhibiting local and international modern and contemporary art.
Book ahead if you want to have lunch in the fantastic museum restaurant, Resto, which serves traditional mezze with a twist. If the weather’s fine, reserve a table outside on the tree-lined courtyard. There’s also a great museum shop selling a tempting selection of art books, locally made crafts and jewellery. “Go for the art, stay for the food,” says Nour.
Find out more at sursock.museum
See also: 50 Biggest Art Collectors In Asia
3/5 Conceptual art
Sfeir-Semler Gallery is at the cutting edge of Lebanon’s contemporary art scene and stages thought-provoking conceptual and minimalist mixed-media exhibitions at its sprawling space in the industrial neighbourhood of Karantina. Its founder, Andrée Sfeir-Semler, was born in Beirut and runs a sister space in Hamburg, Germany.
“A standout exhibition for me was Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué’s A Leap Year, which was staged at the gallery last year,” says Nour. “Kaph Books published the related book, Diary of a Leap Year. It’s our best-selling title so far.”
Find out more at sfeir-semler.com
4/5 One of a kind
“Marfa is a small independent art space which opened just two years ago in the busy port district. They represent up-and-coming young artists from the region, all very conceptual and contemporary. The gallery really is a one of a kind in Beirut.”
Find out more at marfaprojects.com
See also: 5 Asian Galleries To Visit At Art Basel 2018
5/5 Home and away
Maison Tarazi is run by a family of master craftsmen specialising in woodwork, copper, mother-of-pearl and glass who have been creating exquisite handmade furniture for the Middle East’s A-list since 1862. Their showroom is a real Aladdin’s cave of lovingly made pieces influenced by Syrian, Lebanese, Ottoman, Moroccan and Indian styles. “This is artisan carpentry at its best,” says Nour.
Find out more at maisontarazi.com
Check out more travel tips from our other Beirut insiders: Joanna Laura Constantine, Jewelley Designer | Gregory Gatserelia, Interior Designer | Eli Rezkallah, Artist and Photographer | Nour Al Nimer, Tableware Designer
Portrait photography: Walid Rashid