I first saw Layal at a TV station north of Beirut. She was photographing the launch of a new album for the paparazzi magazine Al Jars. I ran into her later while I was drinking whisky with Roola Saad, model and singer, at an exclusive performance in an Ashrafieh nightclub. She took my picture. It was too loud to talk. I left Beirut a few days before the Israelis destroyed the airport. When I got home the pictures sat on my shelf. I couldn't bring myself to look at Beirut as it was, prosperous, stylish, cosmopolitan.

I'd been drawn to the city by the way the rest of the Arab world looked to it as a kind of secular Mecca, a place where people made epic music videos, tales of boy meets girl, girl dies tragically, boy drifts aimlessly around the Mediterranean in a yacht. On 23 July Layal Najib, photographer, 23, was torn apart by an Israeli bomb in southern Lebanon.

Lebanon 2006


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