‘The skateboard community here has been growing throughout the years and now is bigger than it has ever been.’
Tell us something about Lebanon people don’t know?
Lebanon holds many refugees in camps all around from different countries such as Palestine, Syria and Iraq which some of are now involved in many activities such as skateboarding.
Tell us something about yourself?
I am Raymond Ghorayeb, I am 27 years old and I have been skating since I was 10. I started coaching and giving skate lessons when I was 14 years old, and I have been doing just that for a living since then. I am now managing an academy with a few other coaches and instructors who teach not just skateboarding but also rollerblading, cycling and playing music instruments.
How big is the current skateboard community in Lebanon?
The skateboard community here has been growing throughout the years and now is bigger than it has ever been. Whenever you visit the skatepark or any of the usual skating spots, you always find several or many skaters which is a sight we didn’t see back in the day.
Why do you think is there growing interest in skateboarding in Lebanon?
The growing interest is basically because of the global and local marketing of skateboarding. For example, me and my team have been giving lessons for 12 years and also making videos as commercials to get people to know more about skating.
Where do people skate in Lebanon?
There are several spots around Beirut city including a newly built public skatepark at Horsh Beirut. There is also a skatepark in Tripoli.
How has the skateboard scene changed since the introduction of this skatepark?
The park was a boost for more people to get to know what skating is and get introduced to this activity while before it it was not as popular and it gave a place for skaters to gather and practice more often.
What are some of the challenges people in general face in Lebanon today?
We are facing a financial crisis here in Lebanon. 1USD is now equivalent to 25’000 Lebanese pounds and a normal employee earns around 1.5million Lebanese pounds (60USD) a month. My rent is 3.5million (140USD) a months for example which is very hard for an average person to be able to afford. Price of a skateboard is around 150USD (3.8million Lebanese pounds).
‘There are several spots around Beirut city including a newly built public skatepark at Horsh Beirut.’
What has changed since the massive explosion in Beirut in 2020?
The explosion in Beirut followed by the financial crisis really affected the situation in the country. Although Lebanon was never economicaly rich or even stable but the destruction caused by the explosion happened in a very critical area which is in the heart of Beirut. Also the port got destroyed which made it alot worse. Alot of people lost their houses. Alot of people lost their working places either as owner or employees. Taking into consideration the loss of many loved ones which also affected many people and caused them to depress and holding their progress in life. Many people got PTSD including myself because of the horror we witnessed and the following days of the explosion. Life evntualy moved on but I don’t think people will ever be truly over that event and what they lived and lost and seen.
‘The explosion in Beirut followed by the financial crisis really affected the situation in the country.’
Lebanon banned the animated Spiderman movie because of an apprearance of a transgender pride flag. Also, it looks very similar to your national flag which made it worse for some local officials, I guess. How bad is censorship in your everyday life?
Lebanon is fairly and open minded country with a big percentage of acceptability to LGBTQ community. But you always find some people who oppose to many movies/ tv shows/ shops or places do get banned or shut down. The majority of the people don’t have that sort of hate in their minds and would love for the country to be acceptable to all sorts of thinking and beliefs.
Last question: If you could interview a person, who would it be and why?
There are several people that could be interviewed about the Lebanese skateboarding scene some which are still here and others that have moved to live abroad because of our current situation. If I had to choose one particular person it would be the owner of the skateshop Guilbert Abi Rached.