Since Middle East Airlines is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, I thought I dig out old posters and pictures to reflect on these 70 years and how things have changed. Enjoy!
PS: All the pictures are from pinterest and Qadiman.
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].
Fashion trends back then.
The famous St Georges hotel and bay
Berdwani in Zahle
Swim and ski in the same day.
Wearing sunglasses at nightclubs is still a trend
Casino du Liban
The oldest picture of Phoenicia I was able to find. It was taken before the grand opening in 1961
Phoenicia Beirut was celebrating its 50th anniversary around the same time four years ago. This majestic landmark at the heart of Beirut was inaugurated back in 1961 by the Lebanese businessman Najib Salha and was one of the best (if not the best) hotels in the whole area. The hotel was a victim of the Lebanese civil war and had to close down for almost 25 years before it reopened back in 2000. Throughout this post, I traced back Phoenicia’s history in pictures from the glorious 1960s, the dark era between 1975 and 1990 followed by the reopening in 2000, Hariri’s bombing in 2005 and the revamp completed in 2011. I finally added a picture from 2013 and a recent photo I took 2 weeks ago.
Throughout the years, Phoenicia has appeared in numerous movies including the 1965 Mickey Rooney film Twenty-Four Hours to Kill in 1965, Agent 505- Todesfalle Beirut in 1966, Circle of Deveit in 1981, Je Veux Voir / Badeh Shouf with Catherine Deneuve in 2008. The famous Rock band Scorpions shot their song “When you came into my life” in Phoenicia as well.
Picture taken at the grand opening – via Phoenicia website
Another picture from 1964 – via Levantium
Addition of the Roman Tower in 1967
Aerial view of Beirut showing Phoenicia Hotel and the Roman Tower- Taken in the 1960s
Pictures from the 1960s showing the pool, Mosaic restaurant and a rendering of the hotel – Source
Aerial view of Phoenicia in 1974 – via OldBeirut
Another aerial view taken in the 1970s
Mosaic in the 1970s – Quite amazing how it still looks the same
The hotel unfortunately turned into a battlefield during the civil war and had to close down for almost 25 years. The below 3 pictures are the only ones I was able to find that show the damages inside the iconic Phoenicia hotel. Via hoteliermiddleeast
Phoenicia Hotel finally reopened in March 2000 with the addition of a third tower. 2000 was also the year I graduated from school and we were the first school to hold a prom night at Phoenicia, a night I’ll never forget!
In 2005, Phoenicia was damaged in the 2005 bombing assassination of Rafik Hariri and had to close down for 3 months. One of my friends who happened to be there that the bombing shattered all the hotel’s windows.
Phoenicia celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011 after a $50 million revamp was completed.
Here are the most recent pictures of Phoenicia taken in 2013 and 2015.
I don’t know how accurate this poster is but Lissan Al Hal (in Arabic لسان الحال) was a daily Lebanese newspaper that was established by Khalil Sarkis in the 1870s and is considered as one of the oldest Lebanese publications. This 1960 article is entitled “The First Lebanese Car” and talks about a small vehicle (very similar to a Jeep) that was built using American parts by Younes Motors in Lebanon. It would be interesting to know if this same Younes Motors is linked to the current Rasamny-Younes group and whether they produced or sold any of these cars. I went through Lissan Al Hal’s horrible website but didn’t find anything except recent boring news. According to what I found online, the publication was acquired by the Lebanese National Congress that resumed its publication as a weekly newspaper.
As far as Lebanese cars are concerned, the W Motors Lykan Hypersport is considered as the first Lebanese car ever produced and is currently priced at 3,400,000 US dollars.
After his election and starting 1942, editing of Lisan al Hal was continued by his son Khalil Ramez Sarkis who was also a literary figure and had a series of literary works published. After Khalil Ramez Sarkis, editing and publishing was taken over by Gebran Hayek. Bishop George Khodr wrote for the daily in his column called Hadith al Ahad (The Sunday Talk) from 11 March 1962 to 25 January 1970. The newspaper stopped publication during the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s. [Wiki]
Update: A friend just told me about another Lebanese car made by a guy from Tripoli. The car is called “Spider” and it took 3 years to build and cost $300,000. Mustapha used the body of an Infiniti G35 body and engine and boosted the engine to become a 700HP one. Even though what he did was pretty cool, I didn’t like the car much. Here are some pictures:
Pictures via ElIktisad
Update (19 March 2015):: Here’s a small french text I found about the monument
“Le groupe en bronze sculpté par un italien du nom de Mazzucati a pris la place du monument en pierre de Youssef Hoyeck représentant deux femmes, l’une chrétienne, l’autre musulmane. Considérées comme pas assez «glorieuses», les pleureuses Hoyeck n’on connu qu’heurs et malheurs: Attaquées par un fou en 1948, déboulonnées en 1960, elles furent retrouvées enduites de goudron dans un dépôt avant d’être finalement restaurées et exposées dans le jardin du musée Sursock ou elles sont désormais bichonnées par la passionnée conservatrice Sylvia Agémian. La mobilité des monuments et leur déboulonnage institutionnalisé ont fait des émules chez les voisins: Au printemps 2005, portraits équestres, en pied ou en buste à l’effigie de chefs d’états, fils de chefs d’états et fils de chefs d’états devenus chefs d’états qui enjolivaient le pays furent démantelés et évacués par leurs propriétaires, mêmes. “
It basically says that “Les Pleureuses” which were built by Joseph Hoayek were damaged by a crazy man in 1948 and then were removed and displayed at Musee Surosck where they still are. One of the readers promised to send me a picture. I will post it once available.
Update2 (20 March 2015): I got two close-up pictures of the monument from one of the blog’s readers. Thanks a million Maissa!
I was going through old pictures of Martyrs Square and I found this very old picture of a monument of a Christian and a Muslim Lebanese women holding hands that was apparently removed in the 1950s right before the construction of the Martyrs Monument. I’ve never heard of that monument before and I couldn’t find out why they decided to remove it and replace it with the Italian sculptor Renato Marino Mazzacurati statue that we all are familiar with.
I tried looking at old pictures of Martyrs Square (Before 1950) to try and locate where the monument was but couldn’t really figure it out. However if you notice the monument was right below the Philips sign which is showing in newer pictures (1950s and up). I know it’s not a big deal but it would be nice to know the story behind that statue, how it came be and where it is now. Here are a couple of pictures of how Martyrs Square looked in the 1930s and a newer one from the 1950s.
PS: If anyone has further information on that statue, please do share.
Martyrs Square in the 1930s
Martyrs Square in the 1930s
Martyrs Square in the 1950s: Notice the Philips sign
Here’s an old video of Martyrs Square in 1897:
Old Picture of British Troops in the Cedars Back In the 1940s – via Old Beirut
Check out this pretty cool footage from 1941 that was shot by the Australian Imperial Forces in the Cedars. There was a storm probably similar to the one we’re having this week and Becharre residents helped dig out the snow to clear the road for the trucks as the supplies were running low.
Originally shared by Nadine Mazloum – LBCI
A friend was showing me a post on 9gag about kidnapped Soviets in Beirut and how Russia’s counter-terrorism Alpha Group handled the situation. I’ve read a lot about kidnappings, specially from the PLO, in the 1980s but I’ve never heard this part of the story.
Here’s what happened:
Four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped in September 1985 by a fundamentalist group called the Islamic Liberation Organization. Russia quickly dispatched its Alpha group, tasked with counter-terrorism hostage-rescue operations, to Beirut. Once the team learned that Arkady Katkov, a consular attaché and one of the four hostages, was killed, they responded quickly by tracking down and locating one of the kidnappers’ leaders (or relative it’s not clear). In order to send a clear message to the terrorists, Alpha group members castrated the hostage, cut him down into pieces and sent him to the hostage takers. They also threatened to kill more of the kidnappers’ relatives if the Soviet diplomats were not free.
As a result, the 3 hostages were released and dropped off near the Soviet Embassy and no Russian officials were ever taken captive since then. Some say that the release of the Soviet hostages was the result of extensive diplomatic negotiations with the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.
Speaking of hostages, would you support approaches similar to the Russian one to free our kidnapped soldiers?
The old Beiruti house Fairouz grew up in won’t be demolished and turned into a skyscraper. Instead the municipality of Beirut will take over the house and turn it into a museum to honor Fairouz’s career and achievements. I am glad that the house won’t be demolished like Amine Maalouf’s residence and this is the least the municipality can do to one of the most widely admired and respected singers in the Arab world.
The house is located in Zkak el Blat in Beirut. Here’s a [link] to the original article.
Update: Here’s a [link] to the full video.
Chawki Matta, Houwayda, Rafic Najem and Madeleine Tabbar are in that movie. I saw somewhere in the comments that the guy singing at the end is Sami Clark (Grandizer song) but I can’t confirm. Does anyone know where we can download or buy this movie?
This cartoon was published on the 19th of August 1976 by the French satirical magazine. It translates to “Seedy people knife themselves. Rich people are in Côte d’Azur”. I found this cartoon [here] and I tracked down the source to see if there are other cartoons related to Lebanon or the Arab world.