Beirut's gleaming new high-rise apartments have become part of Lebanon's post-war narrative, one that has been seized upon by the world's media to highlight the compelling contradictions the city throws up.
The Lebanese, they write, are brave, creative and determined? Brave? Yes. Creative? Well, derivative might be more accurate, but let's not quibble. Determined? Undoubtedly.
They are also shameless. The recent housing boom has resulted in developers, with the full blessing of the state, taking a wrecking ball to what was left of Lebanon's urban heritage.
This is not a new accusation, but the other night, as I left a party in the gardens of one of the magnificent Sursock palaces, one of the handful of interesting houses left standing in Beirut, the full extent of the immorality that has driven this tragic trend was revealed in all its ghastliness.
The aura of Ottoman grandeur with which my wife and I had earlier been imbued was cruelly stripped away as we passed the not so opulent but nonetheless imposing Villa Linda Sursock. Sitting in what was once the back garden and towering over it like the alien mother ship in Independence Day, was a 24-storey tower block.
The marketing blurb for Ibrahim Sursock Residences claims the development will preserve the cultural and historic nature of the surrounding buildings as well as the neighbourhood.
Readers can look at photos and draw their own conclusions, but I think it's pretty clear the developers are either delusional or deceitful.
Surely one of the functions of the state is to protect us from ourselves.
Planning permission should have been denied on at least two grounds. First, the villa is surely a heritage site and as such should be protected for the sake of future generations from the blithering idiocy and greed of both the former owners and the developers.
Secondly, on purely planning terms, there is no way such a huge edifice should be allowed to stand on such a leafy street.
A similar crime is being committed at the top of my street where the 50-storey - yes twice as high as Sursock Residences - Sama Beirut, or Beirut Sky, is going up on the corner of a busy and congested thoroughfare on a plot of land once occupied by a petrol station.
Even someone with no schooling in urban planning - a modicum of common sense is all that is required - would scratch their head and wonder who in their right mind would give planning permission for what, to the best of my knowledge, will be the tallest residential building in Beirut on the corner of a side street that will eventually be plunged into shadow.
But size isn't everything and there is the issue of utilities to be considered. The government cannot provide water and electricity to those buildings already built and there is very little to suggest it will make up the current shortfall, or have enough to deliver these services for the new apartment blocks one sees on every street corner.
The impact on traffic does not bear thinking about.
It's all very sad really. I have tried to understand the current property boom and still can't see, given the extraordinary supply coming on line, where demand is coming from. I simply do not buy the explanation it is all coming from foreigners and expatriates.
If it really is then Lebanon will face a seismic social shift as the local population is forced out of Beirut and its immediate suburbs in search of cheaper housing, only to be hit by increased transport costs in an age of rising fuel prices and in a country where there is no real public transport.
This month, the local media reported sales of property had slowed, although developers assured us, as if this were something we wanted to hear, prices were holding.
The last bit is, of course, nonsense. An English analyst later told me over a drink the bankers he had spoken to were for the first time talking about a bubble.
The Arab Spring and other regional tensions, they said, had created a wait-and-see attitude among even the most free-spending Arab investors.
It can't carry on. And if there is a crash, we will have no one but ourselves to blame.
A Michael Karam is a communication and publishing consultant based in Beirut. He was the founding editor of Now Lebanon.com