Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Lebanon eyes future for famed hotel turned civil war relic  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 04/05/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) A symbol of Lebanon's golden age, but also its brutal civil war, the empty shell of the Holiday Inn hotel in Beirut could now take on a new life.

No one yet knows what it will become, but after decades as a chilling reminder of the 1975-1990 conflict, the building is set to be auctioned off in the coming months.

Towering over the Beirut seafront, the Holiday Inn is instantly recognisable because of the bullet and rocket marks still covering its walls, more than two decades after the war that devastated Lebanon.

It survived the so-called Battle of the Hotels, one of the civil war's earliest and most violent confrontations, pitting Christian militias against Palestinian fighters allied with Lebanese Muslims and leftists.

One of the most iconic images to emerge from the war, taken just as Beirut was being torn apart into east and west, showed a tower of black smoke rising above the building.

The Holiday Inn, which had opened for business a bare two years before the conflict broke out, featured prominently in "Circle of Deceit", Volker Schloendorff's vivid 1982 movie about a war correspondent who sets up shop in the hotel while reporting on the raging civil conflict.

It never returned to being a hotel, and has instead loomed silently above a fast-changing city populated by memories of a dark past and dreams of a dazzling future.

"It's a unique building. It's sad that 24 years on (from the end of the war), all we see is a carcass," sighed Roland Abdeni, CEO of real estate company CIL (Compagnie Immobiliere Libanaise), which owns 34 percent of the building's shares.

The landmark Phoenicia Hotel just next door has been restored to its onetime glory, but the shareholders of the building housing the defunct Holiday Inn have been locked in a dispute over its future.

While CIL wanted to renovate the building and set up luxury lofts for rent or sale, a Kuwaiti group that owns half the shares has been keen to demolish the site and erect a new tower block like scores of others that have sprang up in post-war Beirut.

A fresh window of opportunity has opened, just as CIL prepares to disband 50 years after its establishment, and now the building is set to be auctioned off.

Though it is devastated, the Holiday Inn has ome to form an integral part of Beirut's modern heritage and uneven landscape.

Army troops and tanks guard the courtyard and entrance, making it impossible to enter without a permit from the military.

The hotel's once sparkling interior was emptied out by the militiamen who used it as a base.

Its furniture, curtains, doors, woodwork, shutters, dinnerware and lamps were all stolen.

Only the walls remain, as do the inscriptions left behind by Palestinian and Christian militiamen, who occupied the Holiday Inn at different junctures.

In stark contrast with the constant din of central Beirut, silence reigns in the building but for an eerie breeze that whistles through the stairwells.

- 'Tower of death' -

Onetime visitors to the Holiday Inn remember its luxuriousness and its spectacular cinema.

But former fighters remember the structure as a "tower of death" that acted as a makeshift landmark dividing majority Christian East Beirut from the mainly Muslim West.

"They chased us from one floor to the next, from room to room, from column to column," said Milad, an ex-fighter from the Phalange, the main Christian party at the time.

"Two comrades and I were the last to leave" before the hotel was taken over by the Palestinians and their allies, he told AFP.

"We waited till dawn, and put on keffiyeh (traditional Palestinian) scarves we took from dead Palestinian fighters," he said, adding that their disguise allowed them to make a clean escape.

His brother-in-arms, Sassine, remembers how "the hotel's chairs and tables were transformed into barricades", and how fires ravaged the woodwork in the rooms.

Palestinian ex-fighter Abu Riad said: "The battle of the hotels was one of the fiercest, and it cost us dozens of killed and injured."

Years later, it remains unclear what the fate of the site will be, even though the neighbourhood it is located in has come back to life as one of Beirut's most vibrant and sought-after.

"For historical and aesthetic reasons," shareholder Abdeni says he does not want to see the building demolished.

If he wins the upcoming auction, Abdeni dreams of refurbishing the building, which even in its current shape is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

"There are many people who would love to have a little space in Beirut in such an extraordinary place as this," he says.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Jul 1 2016 - Qatar, Indonesia join forces in gas searchMENAFN
(MENAFN) Indonesia is seeking partnership with Qatari top firms such as Qatar Petroleum or RasGas for gas exploration on its land, based on recent reports.Indonesia already sees and realizes the ...

 Jul 1 2016 - UAE seeks for India to be top business partnerMENAFN
(MENAFN) India is forecasted to surpass Japan as the top export destination of the UAE by the year 2030, according to the latest reports.Japan and India stood at 11 percent and 6 percent respectively ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Omani Port of Salalah initiates new crucial line servicesMENAFN
(MENAFN) Oman's Port of Salalah, a key Arab Gulf region gateway port for the Arabian Sea, is going to have French-based CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping line adding two new ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Kuwait oil price up 54 cents to USD44.66 pbKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) KUWAIT, July 1 (KUNA) -- The price of Kuwait oil went up by 54 cents to reach USD 44.66 per barrel Thursday after trading at USD 44.12 pb the day before, said ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Sabbiyah shrimp project to achieve production boom - studyKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) KUWAIT, July 1 (KUNA) -- The proposed Sabbiyah shrimp farming project expected to be a leading one is designed to achieve a production boom to meet the rising ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Kuwait- No makeshift eid prayer locations -- ministryKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) KUWAIT, July 1 (KUNA) -- Eid Al-Fitr prayers will be confined to mosques and no makeshift prayer places will be set up, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Kuwait- His Highness the Amir congratulates Rwanda on nat'l dayKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) KUWAIT, July 1 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of congratulations Friday to Rwanda''s President Paul Kagame ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Kuwait- His Highness the Amir congratulatesc Canada on nat'l dayKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) KUWAIT, July 1 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of congratulations Friday to General Governor of Canada David ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Kuwait- His Highness the Amir congratulates Burundi on nat'l dayKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) KUWAIT, July 1 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of congratulations Friday to Burundi''s President Pierre ...

 Jul 1 2016 - Saudi Arabia condemns Bahrain blastKuwait News Agency (KUNA)
(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) JEDDAH, July 1 (KUNA) -- Saudi Arabia has condemned "the terrorist act" that happened in eastern Bahrain killing a woman and injuring her children. The official ...

more...


 





Google

Advertisement

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help