Category Archives: Old Lebanon

Rare Footage From 1941 Of Lebanon’s Ski School In The Cedars

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british 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

How Russia Responded To The Kidnapping of Four Soviet Diplomats In Beirut In 1985

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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.

It’s not surprising to see the Russians react that way to hostage situations specially after what they’ve done during the Moscow theater and the Beslan school hostage crisis.

Speaking of hostages, would you support approaches similar to the Russian one to free our kidnapped soldiers?

Fairouz Old House In Beirut To Become A Museum

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Fairouz House

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.

Alexander The Great’s Siege of The Unconquerable Lebanese City Of Tyre

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I was reading an article about the 5 ancient acts of war that changed the face of the earth and the Great Alexander’s siege of Tyre was mentioned among them, so I decided to dig deeper into it and it’s a mind blowing story to say the least! In fact, I am surprised they haven’t done a movie about that siege alone.

So how did Alexander turn an Island Into a Peninsula?

Tyre was one of the largest and most important Phoenician city states and was a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean. The city had a nearby island with walls extending directly into the water, which meant that it’s impossible to attack the fortification by land and you couldn’t attack the city with a navy (which Alexander didn’t have anyway). As a result, Alexander decided to do the unthinkable and started building a long land bridge to link Tyre back to land, and he did so while his army was attacked with arrows and bombarded by Tyre’s navy.


Once the water became much deeper, Alexander constructed two towers 50 meter long each and moved them to the end of the causeway. This wasn’t enough yet as the Tyre defense and navy were still able to counter all the attacks. Once Alexander was convinced he couldn’t conquer the city without a navy, over 200 galleys sent by the King of Cyprus and Greece came to his rescue. The Tyre navy was able to hold the attacks for a while but Alexander was finally able to make a small breach in the south end of the Island, and then launched a final attack and conquered the island.

Tyr 1934 Tyre view from an airplane, 1934

The article shows a picture of Tyre before Alexander’s attack and how it looks like now. As you can see, it’s no longer an island anymore. If you are interested in reading the whole story, check it out [Here]. There’s also this french article that I found and this short [video].


Why Beirut Was Once Known As ‘The Paris Of The Middle East’

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The Business Insider published a nice article two days ago explaining why “Beirut Was Once Known As The Paris Of The Middle East”. They used photos taken by Charles W. Cushman, an avid traveler and amateur photographer who visited Beirut in its golden years. I am familiar with Cushman’s pictures as he had stayed at the famous Excelsior hotel which I researched and posted about earlier this year but I think the author should have looked for better pictures to highlight Beirut’s golden years. Most of Cushman’s pictures were of random people in the street and not of Beirut’s nightlife and extravagant lifestyle that led people to compare it back then to the French capital.

Funnily enough, one of the pictures show a merchant selling Kaak on the street but the author thought they were croissants, hence the comparison to Paris. As we all know, Kaak is a street food that’s very cheap and affordable to all, unlike the croissant.


I will try to collect some old pictures from the 1960s and compile them in a nice post to show why Beirut was truly ‘The Paris Of The Middle East’. You can check out all of Cushman’s pictures [here] and my post on the famous Excelsior hotel that was visited by Iran’s Shah [here].

Beirut experienced a renaissance of sorts in the mid-20th century.

Following World War II, the Lebanese capital became a tourist destination and financial capital, nicknamed “the Paris of the Middle East” thanks to its French influences and vibrant cultural and intellectual life.

That changed when civil war broke out in 1975, ravaging the city. Beirut has been rebuilt in the decades since (despite occasional violence), and is one again becoming a popular place for travelers.

Charles W. Cushman, an avid traveler and amateur photographer, visited Beirut in its heyday in 1965 and captured some stunning photos of everyday life in the city. These photos are being shared with permission from the Indiana University Archives.