Stories from Afar & Up Close

Libanopoly, or: be your own Saniora

A while ago on a sunny evening-walk, we passed an old, crowded toy store. As we’d been trying to find affordable board games, we hopped in. The owner of the store told us he had been a shopkeeper in Ras Beirut since 1983 – and he had the photos to prove it.


He also had a very large selection of toys and games, ranging from fake barbies to small tanks made from shiny bullets glued into shape. He also had the Lebanese version of Monopoly: Libanopoly. Only 13500 liras (about $9), for the deluxe edition! That game was coming home with us.


Unfortunately ‘deluxe’ turned out to be a euphemism, seeing that the game had a grand total of 4 plastic thingies to represent the players, a collection of melted plastic squares representing the Beirut housing market and a total absence of 50-lira bills, but that’s like living here in real life: adapt, find a solution and play (live) on!


The best part, of course, are the inevitable jokes: can I run up a debt of 40 billion dollars? If another player threatens my position, can I blow up his token? I can probably build more than the maximum allowed number of houses on this street, right? That, and the fact that Hamra Street is the most expensive street on the board. I’ve always known I live in a classy neighborhood…