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
 Sep 30 2016 - Italy's Eni confirms renewable energy deal with EgyptMENAFN
(MENAFN) Italian oil Eni agreed a common strategy with Egypt to construct renewable energy projects in the country.Moreover, the first project will be a solar plant in Sinai with output of 50 MW, ...

 Sep 30 2016 - Oman's budget deficit reaches USD10.83bn in H1MENAFN
(MENAFN) Oman's budget deficit increased and crossed the RO4bn mark for Jan-July period this year as government revenue continued to hurt by weak oil prices.Meanwhile, the deficit grew by 68 percent ...

 Sep 30 2016 - UAE hotels to cut costs by 20pctMENAFN
(MENAFN) Hotels in the UAE could cut their costs by more than 20 percent by reducing their energy and water consumption.Moreover, hotels with poor environmental policies consume three times more ...

 Sep 29 2016 - Kimberly process chair steps up momentum on Africa initiativeMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Zimbabwe was the next stop on his extensive tour of African States, to give Africa a Voice, for which the Kimberley Process was originally intended. In Harare, the KP Chair met with ...

 Sep 29 2016 - Global Virtual Reality Market 2016 Share, Trend, Segmentation and Forecast To 2020MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Global Virtual Reality Market 2016 Share, Trend, Segmentation and Forecast To 2020 next five years in an average of 106% CAGR; by 2020 over 430 billion products will be sold, and 21 ...

 Sep 29 2016 - NY Gov. Cuomo's Justice Center a Corruption SchemeMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) NY Gov. Cuomo's Justice Center a Corruption Scheme Jonathan Carey "Champion for the Disabled" Born September 12,1993 Killed by caregivers on February 15,2007 The corruption is ...

 Sep 29 2016 - Solving the last jigsaws to minimize risks, optimize costs and accelerate commercialization at Biosimilars North AmericaMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Solving the last jigsaws to minimize risks, optimize costs and accelerate commercialization at Biosimilars North America The 3rd annual Biosimilars North America by popular demand, ...

 Sep 29 2016 - Haptic Interface Market 2016 market Share, Current and Future Players, Analysis and Forecast to 2022.MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Haptic Interface Market 2016 market Share, Current and Future Players, Analysis and Forecast to 2022. Global Haptic Interface Market Information, by Components (Hardware, Software), ...

 Sep 29 2016 - Cold Forging Machine: Consumption, Demand, Sales, Competitor and Forecast 2016 2021MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Cold Forging Machine: Consumption, Demand, Sales, Competitor and Forecast 2016 – 2021 Cold Forging Machine Global Market 2016 Analysis and Forecast to 2021 PUNE, INDIA, September ...

 Sep 29 2016 - Global Wind Power Market Top Manufactures, Market Demands, Trends, Industry Growth Analysis & Forecast 2021MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Global Wind Power Market Top Manufactures, Market Demands, Trends, Industry Growth Analysis & Forecast 2021 Global Wind Power Market Information Report by Application (Residential ...

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