The current population of Tariq El Jdideh is around four million. The area is famous for its cultural heritage and is home to Beirut’s largest social and educational institutions and a range of cultural landmarks from historic cafés and buildings to the Beirut Municipal Stadium. It is also famous for its souks, such as the Textile Souk, the Afif El Tibeh Souk, and the Sabra Souk, which is the largest popular market in Beirut.
A large number of schools are located in Tariq El Jdideh, some of them demolished over the years. In 2000 the Mama Najah and Al Anwar schools were replaced with luxury tower blocks. In the case of the Mama Najah School, an investor purchased houses that surrounded the school and pooled them into a single property. In August 2015, a survey listed a total of 381 buildings standing in Tariq El Jdideh, and recorded that 62 families had been evicted, with 98 more threatened with eviction. There were 27 buildings either demolished or scheduled for demolition, while 88 buildings in the area had been built on the rubble of demolished properties over the course of the previous twenty years. Having to move from the home or neighbourhood where one has lived all one’s life, particularly in old age, constitutes a form of emotional and psychological violence, in addition to the financial and social problems which result from relocating someone away from their place of work and the social networks that sustain them.
Joumana, El Hajja Wafiqa, and El Hajj Abdel Qader have lived in Tariq El Jdideh their entire lives. Each was left to deal with the process of forcible displacement in their own way, drawing on the strong ties of friendship and community that characterise this neighbourhood.