I compiled a list of old pictures of the American University of Beirut from 1890 until today to celebrate its 150th anniversary. I found old photos from 1890, 1907, 1910, the 1920s, 1930, 1942, 1953, 1969, 1971 and 1980 all from three main sources [OldBeirut], Life and AUB. I also added a couple of recent pictures.
I always miss AUB and try to visit it every now and then. I miss hanging out with friends near Bliss, on the green oval or the cafeteria stairs. I miss running around from one class to another, I miss walking around the campus on rainy days, I miss having lunch breaks at Universal Snack and buying snacks from Abu Naji. I miss some of my teachers but I will never miss exams or studying at the library hours before an exam 😀
AUB will celebrating 150 years all year long. They are asking old students to share their AUB stories and organizing several events. Check them out [here].
AUB Assembly Hall 1890
AUB in 1910
AUB – 1914
AUB in 1920
AUB in 1920
AUB Biology Classroom in the 1920s | Copyright Library of Congress
On January 18, 1976, Beirut experienced a major blackout for a total of 20 minutes due to the ongoing fights. A 20 minute blackout was considered a scandal at the time even though the country was at war, and the story was mentioned in most newspapers.
Can you imagine how the Lebanese would react if the current goes out for only 20 minutes these days? They would probably panic at first, then they would hit the streets singing and dancing Dabke and offering Baklawa for a week.
This is the sad reality we are currently living, and I don’t expect the electricity situation to get better anytime soon.
The screenshot shown above is from L’OrientLeJour archives and was recently shared by one of my favorite FB pages “La guerre du Liban au jour le jour“. Check it out as they have an endless number of awesome old footages and articles.
PS: If you want 24/7 electricity, you can always move to Zahle 😀
How many of you have been listening to Ziad Rahbani plays for the past 20 years or more? How many times have you visualized the scenes in your head while listening to the plays? How awesome would it be to actually watch the original footage and put a face to all these voices you have been listening to?
Well M Media is finally making it happen and you will be able to watch two Ziad Rahbani plays in theaters starting Jan 2016. The first play that will roll out is “Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” and you can already watch its trailer [here]. The plays will be available on [M’s online platform] afterwards along with other movies and plays.
I’m not a Ziad Rahbani fan but I’m really excited about this project, because these plays were all part of our culture and still are, and because the original scenes were recorded in bits and pieces and reconstructing them audio and video took several months of hard work. I have no idea how these plays looked like and a lot of Rahbani fans were too young at the time, so watching the original footage is going to blow their minds away! Two of my friends are already going crazy about it and can’t wait till January.
I am still not sure in which theater “Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” will be playing but I will have further details next week for sure. Stay tuned 😀
The Heinene Palace, one of Beirut’s oldest and most iconic palaces, has just been placed on the 2016 World Monuments Fund Watch List thanks to Save Beirut Heritage! The 19th century palace was built during the Ottoman rule in Zokak el-Blat, which used to be one of the upper class districts in Beirut where villas and palaces were built and was the first area to have a paved road as well. Heneine Palace was abandoned in the 1970s with the death of its last owner. It was designated a landmark in 2010 and currently has several owners without clear agreement about its future, just like several other historic buildings in Beirut.
Save Beirut Heritage and other organizations have trying for years to save this old heritage and were able to gain support from World Monuments Watch, an organization aimed at “preserving the world’s irreplaceable treasures — architectural and cultural sites that span the history of human civilization”. This is definitely good news and I hope it will help turning the Heneine Palace into a public space to be enjoyed by all and avoid what happened with the nearby “Akar Palace”.
Sietske paid a visit to Zkak el Blat back in 2009, check out her [post].
Here’s a brief description of the Heneine Palace:
Heneine Palace is one of the most remarkable buildings in Zokak el-Blat, once a bourgeois garden district outside the old city walls of Beirut. The house was built in the late nineteenth century, during the final years of Ottoman rule, when Zokak el-Blat was an area of elite homes surrounded by orchards and gardens that was rapidly urbanizing. The plain exterior of the building concealed an unusual Moorish-inspired interior, with fountains, plaster decoration in geometric motifs, and arcades of crenellated arches separating the different spaces. A long list of illustrious occupants have graced these sitting rooms: from the Russian nobleman for whom the palace was built, to the Mezher family of local landowners, who rented it to one of the founders of Beirut’s French School of Medicine. Between 1914 and 1936, the building housed the United States Consulate-General, and it also served as a consulate of the Netherlands. Starting in the 1940s, the upper floor was rented to the writer, philosopher, and art collector Dr. Dahesh, whose collection of European academic art later formed the basis of New York’s Dahesh Museum of Art.
CNN featured Beirut’s old buildings as 1 of the 25 magnificent structures on the verge of extinction. Here’s what they said:
As if decades of civil war and bombardments weren’t enough, the remaining old buildings of Beirut are now under threat by property developers who are looking to create new luxury blocks on real estate currently occupied by traditional structures. Many have been hastily deemed unfit for living, pushing residents away: less than 350 heritage buildings remain.
Lebanon’s architectural heritage is one of a kind but it’s slowly disappearing and Beirut is quickly losing its traditional character as old houses, beautiful villas and Ottoman-style mansions are increasingly being destroyed and replaced with modern skyscrapers. I love Beirut’s old houses and I always feature them on Instagram because I know they won’t last long. There are around 350 heritage buildings right now in Beirut but a lot of them need some serious renovation and the authorities aren’t doing anything to maintain them. Moreover, not all owners are wealthy enough to maintain and renovate their houses as it’s quite costly and the law obliges them to pay higher taxes if I’m not mistaken.
The ideal scenario is for the government and the concerned ministries (Tourism & Culture) to protect this heritage but most of them are short-sighted and corrupt and would rather strike deals with real estate companies to make few bucks than preserve our heritage. Of course there are many organizations and NGOs working on preserving this heritage but the property developers they are up against are way too powerful and well connected. One of the initiatives that caught my attention a while ago was one by French Designer Benedicte de Vanssay de Blavous Moubarak and her husband Raja who “are collecting discarded old wrought iron balustrades, railings and window frames from all authentic Lebanese houses and turning them into design pieces, in an attempt to preserve Lebanon’s disappearing architectural heritage”.
Check out CNN’s full list [here]. It’s quite sad to see Al Khazneh in Petra on that list as it’s one of the most amazing structures you could ever visit.
This is quite an amazing old footage from 1974 back when we had a rally between Lebanon and Syria that looked a bit like the Paris Dakar. Lebanese Driver Joe Hindi won the rally that year against the likes of Hannu Mikkola who became World Champion in 1983, the famous Jean Todt who later became the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team manager and is currently the FIA president. I also spotted Sehnaoui (which I assume is Maurice “Bagheera” Sehnaoui) in that race. The rally was called “The Safari of the Middle East” and crossed most of the Lebanese and Syrian territories as you can see from the maps shown below.
It’s pretty amazing how things have changed from the 1970s between Syria and Lebanon, from the wars that opposed both countries, to the civil war, to the Syrian hegemony era and now war in Syria. I look at all these rally stages (Der Ezzor, Aleppo, Hassaka) and the first thing that comes to mind now are massacres and bombings unfortunately.
Let’s hope that we will get back to such peaceful times and we will have another Lebanese-Syrian rally one day. Until then, enjoy this amazing old footage!
If you are like old pictures and videos of Lebanon, then Kheireddine El-Ahdab is the man to follow. He always shares the most amazing old videos and pictures of Beirut and Lebanon and his latest is this amazing 5-minute high quality video shot in Beirut and Lebanon in the 1960s. The video is from the AP archives and was taken from the movie 24 hours to kill.
You can easily spot the old Beirut airport, Phoenicia hotel, Excelsior and St George hotel, the Casino du Liban and other landmarks. Check out the video [here].