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The local art market has stagnated and at times come to a near standstill since the onset of the war in Syria in early 2011 . Various gallerists describe their clientele in different terms but, generally speaking, Beirut's art market does depend on international collectors, many of them Lebanese expats. By contrast, Noha Moharram, the founder of Gemmayzeh-based gallery Art on 56th, said that, while slower than last year, this summer had brought in numerous tourists."We've seen a lot of new people, mainly expat Lebanese who want to come and invest in Middle Eastern art ... We saw this change directly after the Saudi Embassy [lifted the travel ban] and the security was a bit better".While most of her collectors are Lebanese expats, rather than Gulf tourists, she said, the increase in Lebanese, Jordanian and Syrian tourists has meant that business picked up this summer after a lackluster first half of the year. An increase in tourist traffic doesn't necessarily correspond to an increase in sales, however, particularly for more established venues such as the Sfeir-Semler Gallery, who are accustomed to dealing with serious collectors.I tried to avoid [showing] during Ramadan [this year] ... and that was even worse, because the Lebanese who live in Lebanon left in August.
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