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
 Mar 26 2017 - Morocco- Othmani To Give Press Conference About Government FormationMorocco World News
(MENAFN - Morocco World News) Casablanca- Morocco's Appointed Head of Government, Saad Eddine Othmani, is set to give a press conference on Saturday 25 at 8:30 to inform the public about the latest ...

 Mar 26 2017 - Morocco- Saad Eddine Othmani Announces end of Deadlock, Formation of GovernmentMorocco World News
(MENAFN - Morocco World News) Rabat – Morocco's newly appointed Head of Government, Saad Eddine Othmani announced on Saturday evening the end of the five-long deadlock and the formation of the new ...

 Mar 26 2017 - US-led coalition opens probe into fatal Mosul airstrikeThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) WASHINGTON: The U.S.-led anti-IS coalition confirmed Friday it has opened a formal investigation into "multiple allegations" that a U.S. airstrike allegedly ...

 Mar 26 2017 - Syrian opposition 'committed to political solution'The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) GENEVA: The head of the Syrian opposition delegation at peace talks in Geneva stressed their commitment to a "political solution" on Friday. UN Special Envoy ...

 Mar 26 2017 - US' top diplomat to visit Turkey March 30The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be in Turkey on March 30 to meet senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the U.S. confirmed ...

 Mar 26 2017 - Hamas official shot dead in Gaza StripThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) GAZA CITY, Palestine: Hamas official Mazen Faqha was assassinated late Friday in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza said. 'Faqha ...

 Mar 26 2017 - Turkish forces kill 6 PKK terrorists in northern IraqThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) ANKARA: Six PKK terrorists were killed during a Turkish military operation in northern Iraq, Turkish Armed Forces said in a statement on Saturday. The military said ...

 Mar 26 2017 - Syrian regime airstrike kills 17 east of DamascusThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) DAMASCUS, Syria: At least 17 civilians including women and children were killed Saturday in a Syrian regime airstrike east of the capital Damascus, according to a ...

 Mar 26 2017 - Iraqi military says 61 bodies pulled from collapsed Mosul siteThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) BAGHDAD: Iraqi's military said on Sunday 61 bodies had been recovered from a collapsed building that was boobytrapped by Islamic State in Western Mosul, but there was no ...

 Mar 26 2017 - Iraq probes reports of civilian deaths in Mosul: officerThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Baghdad:Iraq is investigating air strikes in west Mosul that reportedly killed large numbers of civilians in recent days, a military spokesman said on Sunday. Iraqi ...

more...


 





Google

 
 

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

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