Photo Essay

Nabaa’s Changing Face: Repurposing and Refurbishing in Times of Crisis

Once thriving markets are now shuttered, storefronts are turned into repair shops, daily life is being reworked.

Nabaa is a densely populated neighborhood in Burj Hammoud, located along the Beirut River on the city’s periphery. Multi-story buildings house tens of thousands of low-income residents, migrant workers, and Syrian refugees. The economic crisis, hyperinflation, and the sharp decline in purchasing power are changing the landscape of this already disenfranchised neighborhood. Once thriving markets are now shuttered, storefronts are turned into repair shops, daily life is being reworked. This photo essay is part of a series The Public Source is dedicating to document Lebanon's changing face.

Under a fading sign for “Rony Cell,” a plumber has set up shop for repairs and used appliances. He has been working for several months now, but it is too expensive to put up a new sign; and work has been slow. Today, he made 50,000 L.L., but sometimes he goes for weeks without any business. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

Under a fading sign for “Rony Cell,” a plumber has set up shop for repairs and used appliances. He has been working for several months now, but it is too expensive to put up a new sign; and work has been slow. Today, he made L.L. 50,000, but sometimes he goes for weeks without any business. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

A plumber has set up shop for repairs and used appliances. He  buys and resells all types of refurbished items, such as fans, toilet seats, office chairs, heaters, water tanks, and faucets. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak / The Public Source)

The plumber at “Rony Cell” buys and resells all types of refurbished items, including fans, toilet seats, office chairs, heaters, water tanks, and faucets. Some of his customers are selling their home appliances to afford rent or food. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

Over several blocks around “Rony Cell,” workers have turned empty stores into repair shops, mainly for household appliances like fridges, washing machines, and gas stoves. Many have lost their jobs in construction and home improvement work due to the economic crisis and the pandemic. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

Over several blocks around “Rony Cell,” workers have turned empty stores into repair shops, mainly for household appliances like fridges, washing machines, and gas stoves. Many have lost their jobs in construction and home improvement work due to the economic crisis and the pandemic. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

Jem`a Alawi Al Khalaf has been repairing fridges for 15 years. He opened his repair shop in Nabaa six years ago and has worked from 8 am till 10 pm every day since. “I barely get to see my children, but I need to work.” Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

Jem`a Alawi Al Khalaf has been repairing fridges for 15 years. He opened his repair shop in Nabaa six years ago and now works daily from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. “I barely get to see my children, but I need to work.” Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

A worker repairs a used stove top to resell in his shop. He lost his job as a concrete pump truck driver a year and a half ago, and has taken up repair work since. At best, he makes 50,000 L.L. per item sold, and cannot count on a daily income because the business is not stable. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

A worker repairs a used stove top to resell in his shop. He lost his job as a concrete pump truck driver a year and a half ago, and has since taken up repair work. At best, he makes L.L. 50,000 per item sold, and cannot count on a daily income because his business is not stable. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

With new appliances now unaffordable, repair shops for washing machines, stove tops, and fridges have become a common sight in the neighborhood. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

With new appliances now unaffordable, repair shops for washing machines, stove tops, and fridges have become a common sight in the neighborhood. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

A tuk tuk driver works with the repair shops to transport appliances back and forth to customers’ homes. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

A tuk tuk driver works with the repair shops to transport appliances back and forth to customers’ homes. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

The “Shish Kabob” restaurant has been out of business for three years. It is now a slaughterhouse for chickens. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

The “Shish Kabob” restaurant has been out of business for three years. It is now a slaughterhouse for chickens. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

The S. Farran & Co. car repair store is now a shop for casual clothing. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)

The S. Farran & Co. car repair store is now a shop for casual affordable clothing. Nabaa, Lebanon. June 26, 2021. (Mohamad Cheblak/The Public Source)