5x15 in collaboration with V4L presents - Let’s talk about the Blast

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In this special programme about the blast in Beirut in August, expert speakers from across Lebanese civil society share their personal, professional perspectives. It's at 6pm GMT.

Hashim Sarkis

Hashim Sarkis is an architect, educator, and scholar. He is principal of Hashim Sarkis Studios (HSS), established in 1998 with offices in Boston and Beirut. He is also the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 2015.

Sarkis has recently been appointed curator of the 17th International Architecture exhibition at the 2020 Venice Biennale (now delayed to 2021).

The architectural and urban projects of HSS include affordable housing, parks, institutional buildings, urban design, and town planning. HSS has received several awards for its projects, which have been exhibited around the world as well as published extensively. Sarkis is the author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on modern architecture history and theory.

Maya Chams Ibrahimchah

Maya Chams Ibrahimchah is Founder and president of Beit el Baraka. Maya has a background in Marketing and Communication, is a member of the committee for the preservation of Lebanese national heritage at the Ministry of Culture, and is an activist for human rights and the environment.

Beit el Baraka is an NGO giving a sense of dignity to Lebanese families that have been deprived of their most basic needs and rights. In a spirit of respect and support, Beit el Baraka aims to provide a tailor-made, accurate, and beneficial response to Lebanon’s economic and multi-dimensional challenges that are depriving many citizens of their most basic needs and rights.

Gregory Buchakjian

Director of the School of Visual Arts at Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts-Alba, Gregory Buchakjian is an art historian and interdisciplinary visual artist. His exploration of abandoned dwellings led to a PhD dissertation at Sorbonne Université (2016), solo exhibitions at Sursock Museum, Beirut (2018) and Villa Empain, Brussels (2019) and the publication Abandoned Dwellings, A History of Beirut (Beirut, Kaph Books: 2018). Showcased in the first Lebanese Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, he co-organized the 2nd Alba Cinema Encounters “Filming in Times of War, 1975-1990” (2019) for which he produced the installation Where do Filmmakers go?

He was member of the advisory committee of the Saradar Collection (2012-2019) and took part in juries including Sursock Museum Salon d’Automne (2009), Boghossian Prize (2012), Beirut Art Center Exposure (2013), Beirut Art Residency (2017) and Arab Documentary Photography Program (2019).

Photo credit: Myriam Boulos

Yazan Halwani

Yazan Halwani is a Lebanese artist and activist most known for his paintings and public art in murals and sculptures. In response to the traditional sectarian political world in which he grew up, Halwani's paintings examine and comment on the Middle-East and Lebanon's culture and underlying political, economic and social dynamics. He is a graduate of the American University of Beirut and of Harvard University.

Sara El-Yafi

Sara El-Yafi is a public policy consultant and a political activist. She worked as a political adviser in Lebanon for several years, advising key stakeholders on sustainable solutions to major policy concerns. She is a regular political commentator, and has been featured on CNN, France 24, AlJazeera, and the BBC, among others. Sara is also a writer whose writings span all types of socio-political topics and she has built a strong following among a global community of readers. Sara holds a bachelor in Political Science from the American University of Beirut and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Arwa Damon
hosts the event

Arwa Jabiri Damon is a multi-award winning senior international correspondent based in CNN's Istanbul bureau. As one of the network's Middle East specialists, Damon frequently reports from conflict zones across the Middle East and North Africa region, often focusing her work on humanitarian stories. She began her career in the networks Baghdad bureau in 2003, and remained there through 2010, including the battle for Fallujah, and the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein. She has also extensively covered the Arab Spring, the ongoing war in Syria, and the rise and battles against ISIS.

In 2015 Damon launched a non-profit organization, International Network for Aid, Relief, and Assistance (INARA), based on her personal experience in war zones and war-torn nations. INARA focuses on building a network of logistical support and medical care to help children who have fallen through the cracks of pre-existing medical care and need lifesaving or life altering medical treatment.

Damon graduated with honors from Skidmore College in New York with a double major in French and Biology and a minor in International affairs. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts but spent most of her childhood in Morocco and Turkey.

She is fluent in Arabic, French and Turkish.