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.


 






  MENA News Headlines
 Sep 2 2014 - Egypt military academy stampede kills 9Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) CAIRO Nine people were killed on Tuesday in a stampede outside a military academy in Egypt by relatives seeking to visit cadets the army said in a statement.The military released ...

 Sep 2 2014 - Attack on Egypt security convoy kills 11 in SinaiArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) CAIRO: An attack on a convoy killed 11 members of the Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday security and medical sources said.Two were killed by a roadside ...

 Sep 2 2014 - UAE- Human League to perform in DubaiKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Human League bring their electro-pop back catalogue to Dubai New wave legends The Human League will bathe The Irish Village in synths for their show on Thursday September ...

 Sep 2 2014 - UAE- Ismail Matar backs Mahdis contract extensionKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Matar hinted that het could be able to return to the pitch in two weeks time after covering half of the four-week period decided by the doctors for his recovery.Dubai: Al ...

 Sep 2 2014 - Dubai does well to curb thalassaemia in newbornsKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Drop in the number of disease cases attributed to awareness campaigns screenings.The number of cases of thalassaemia in newborns in Dubai has drastically reduced due to the ...

 Sep 2 2014 - UAE- Umm Al Quwain offers 50 per cent off on traffic finesKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The 50 per cent cut on pending fines includes unpaid fines for speeding and other traffic violations available till December 5.The UAQ Police are offering a 50 per cent ...

 Sep 2 2014 - UAE- Ajman launches online renewal of car registrationKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The programme also provides the opportunity for public to renew their registration card without having to visit the traffic department.The Ajman Police on Monday launched its ...

 Sep 2 2014 - UAE- Cop accused of kidnapping raping womanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) He drove her to a dark location near a construction site after offering a lift where he allegedly raped her.A cop has been charged in the Court of First Instance with ...

 Sep 2 2014 - UAE- Manager blackmails women staff for sex court hearsKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Three women have complained against the 31-year-old man alleging that he had been constantly sexually harassing them.A Palestinian manager has been brought before the Court ...

 Sep 2 2014 - UAE- 22-year-old Indian found hanging from treeKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Police patrols and paramedics were rushed to the spot who took down the body and transferred it to Al Dhaid Hospital for an autopsy.A 22-year-old Indian man was found hanging ...

more...


 






Google

Taqs

 
 

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