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Amer Mohtar and Petra Samaha

Decoding an Urban Myth: An Inquiry into the Socio-Economics of Van Number 4 in Beirut

It has been called a #lifestyle on social media (#اسلوب_حياة). The van number 4 has become a social phenomenon, as well as an economic one. Here, we call it an intersection between contradicting places where strangers from different classes share the journey from the informal area of Hay el-Sellom in south Beirut to the cosmopolitan neighborhood of Hamra in the Lebanese capital, and back. In most third world countries, informal public transit pervades the urban fabric. The ...

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Amer Mohtar has a BA in Architecture from the Beirut Arab University (2013), and is currently finishing his thesis for the Master of Urban Design at the American University of Beirut. His research focuses on participatory planning in the town of Aramoun, Aley (Greater Beirut). He participated in several workshops covering urban issues in different areas in Lebanon (Saida, Medawwar/Khoder and Bachoura) contributing to publications of the workshops proceedings. Amer was also on the winning team (The Last Resort) of the competition “Revisiting Dalieh.” 

Petra Samaha has a Master of Architecture from the Lebanese University (2013), and a Master of Urban Design from the American University of Beirut (2015). The focus of her thesis work was on the issue of public spaces, particularly streets, in low-income neighborhoods. A part of her work on the neighborhood of Nabaa (Bourj Hammoud, Greater Beirut) was published within Practicing the Public edited by Mona Fawaz, Ahmad Gharbieh and Public Works. It was issued with As-Safir Lebanese daily. Petra is currently pursuing her research on this topic as part of a grant from the AUB Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs.