Quotes: US 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 come 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
 Oct 20 2014 - Saudi stocks buck trend with healthy gainsArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia's benchmark Tadawul All-Share Index bucked the three-day prevailing downward trend and logged a sharp gain of 2.39 percent on Sunday.The index opened with a largely ...

 Oct 20 2014 - Saudi- NCB pledges conversion to Islamic bank after pressure from scholarsArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) RIYADH: National Commercial Bank (NCB) has responded to criticism of its operations from Islamic scholars by pledging to convert itself into a full-fledged Islamic bank within ...

 Oct 20 2014 - HE Prime Minister Inaugurates Milipol Qatar 2014Qatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Under the auspices of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, HE Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani inaugurated the 10th ...

 Oct 20 2014 - HE Prime Minister Meets Commander of Turkey's Aegean ArmyQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HE Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani met Monday with Commander of Aegean Army General Abdullah Atay and ...

 Oct 20 2014 - HE Prime Minister Meets Iran's Police ChiefQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HE Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani met Monday with Chief of Iran's National Police Forces Commander Ismael Ahmadi and the ...

 Oct 20 2014 - Israeli Forces Arrest Four Palestinians from Bethlehem and HebronQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Israeli forces arrested early Monday four Palestinians from Bethlehem and Hebron districts, said security sources. Large Israeli troops raided the town of Taqou‘ to the east of ...

 Oct 20 2014 - 20 million to vacation abroad by 2030Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) The number of Saudi vacationers spending their holidays abroad will increase sixfold by 2030 a local study revealed.The study carried out by a company specializing in travel ...

 Oct 20 2014 - Student's death in US: Cousin reveals detailsArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Several relatives of Abdullah Alkadi the Saudi scholarship student in the US whose body was found late on Thursday more than a month after he went missing are flying to Los ...

 Oct 20 2014 - King orders free treatment for people with special needsArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has instructed the Ministry of Social Affairs to pay the treatment costs of people with disabilities at rehabilitation centers. ...

 Oct 20 2014 - S. Korea's Int'l Airline Traffic Grows 9.12 in Q3Qatar News Agency
(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Seoul October 20 (QNA) - South Korea's international airline traffic rose 9.1% from a year earlier in the third quarter partly on a rise in the number of flights to and ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

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

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

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
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

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


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help