The founders of ASHEKMAN, two identical twin brothers Omar & Mohamed Kabbani recently finished a massive calligraffiti project in North Lebanon that makes a powerful political statement about unity. Titled Operation Salam, they painted the word PEACE (سلام) in Arabic across 85 rooftops that can only be seen from the sky.
Located in Tripoli, in an ex-war zone in North Lebanon, it took the artistic duo three years of planning to execute Operation Salam, and share their message of peace to the outer world. It spans across 85 rooftops along a Syrian street that was strategically selected. It separates two fighting neighborhoods, Jabal Mehssen and Beb el Tebbeneh. Families and children even assisted, roaming the rooftops freely without any fear of being shot by snipers, all in hopes of a creating a brighter future that’s removed of violence.
The idea originated from their own personal experiences growing up in Beirut with the vagaries of the Lebanese Civil War and the brutality of its militias as children. Their daily commute to attend school, was perpetually engrossed by post marked walls that testified to the destruction of war, emblazed with different slogans of parties and sects.
Living in the Middle East during such a dangerous period made them yearn for a sense of calmness and peace-of-mind. However, after three decades they’ve realized that they will never obtain this mental freedom until a bold approach was taken to insight Peace. Now with Operation Salam finished and visible from space, it’s provided a form of closure to their past and an inner-serenity that many seek-out but few end up finding.
ASHEKMAN is an Arabic street-art crew that started in Beirut during 2004 by the identical twin brothers Omar & Mohamed Kabbani. Specializing in Arabic graffiti and Arabic calligraffiti they’ve used this style to create both prolific artwork and music.
It all began with an idea to display Arabic content that integrated their degrees in graphic design and knowledge of Arabic calligraphy, developed from studying under master calligrapher Ali Assi. It resulted in the formation of the Lebanese street-art crew.
The Kabbani brothers were heavily inspired by the Lebanese civil war graffiti movement, which first emerged during the 80s and 90s. Growing up during such a dangerous period with various fighting militias using graffiti to tag walls, they’re among the early adopters to conjoin Arabic calligraphy with street-art.
Their endeavors are now all facilitated in the ASHEKMAN studio, where they work on client projects, and continue to produce music and create artwork. Their objectives and purpose have not changed much since the beginning; to revive Arabic culture using urban context.