Beirut is once again a hotspot for tourists. Focal to this is Beirut’s hotel district, home to many 4 and 5 star hotels. These hotels have indeed raised the standard for excellence. As is always the case with Lebanon, there’s another part of this story. During the heydays of the 1960’s, this same hotel district was the playground of the rich and famous. Beirut became known as the “Paris of the Middle East” during this time. The high stakes game of the hotel industry took a turn for the worst during Lebanon’s bloody civil war. Hotels not only suffered a loss of revenue but became an actual battle ground. The infamous “Battle of the Hotels” was waged. The InterContinental Phoenicia Hotel is in the foreground of the photo with the still damaged Holiday Inn behind, casting its ominous shadow over the city. Just a stone’s throw from the Holiday Inn are newly built hotels and residential towers. Some of the newest structures feature a glass facade. Who would suggest such a fragile facade in plain view of Beirut’s violent history? Could the architect be Lebanese? Of course! Only a Lebanese would tempt the Gods of War with such a delicate structure but then tempting fate is part of being Lebanese.
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