Zena el Khalil was born in London in 1976 and has lived in Lagos, London, New York, Turin and Beirut. She is an installation artist, curator and cultural activist. During the July 2006 attacks on Lebanon, her blog beirutupdate.blogspot.com was published on CNN and the BBC and excerpted in The Guardian and Der Spiegel online. In 2008 she was invited to speak at the Nobel Peace Center, Oslo and in 2012 was named a TED Fellow. Beirut, I Love You, is currently on its way to becoming a feature film, winning every award at the Torino Film Lab. Zena lives and works in Beirut, and in an attempt to spread peace is often seen running around in a big pink wedding dress.
My Grandpa Mohammad built our house in Hasbaya on top of a hill. It was a typical two-floor Lebanese-style village home. The façade was covered in cut limestone squares and the roof consisted of red shingles. The kitchen, dining room, and living room were on the lower floor. Talking to my father today, his fondest memories always take him back to the summers they spent in Hasbaya. He says that it was there that he learnt to become a man. It was during the long hot and dry days that his endurance and vigor were tested.