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Beirut by Lebanon 2009 Official General Tourism Guide, a Ways Group publication

- New York Times newspaper recommended recently "44 places to Go in 2009" and has named Beirut the number one place among them before Washington, DC., Galapagos, Berlin and Las Vegas.

- The article read, "From the Aegean Sea to Zambia, this year's most compelling destinations are awash in sublime landscapes, cutting-edge art, gala music festivals, and stylish new resorts".

- Beirut was described to be "poised to reclaim its titled as the Paris of the Middle East" and its hotels were described to be "luxurious" and high-profile restaurants are transforming the city's culinary scene.

The Lady of the World

A thousand times she died, a thousand times revived. Beirut, one of the oldest cities in the world, is also an ultramodern metropolis where a mosaic of people have survived countless wars and foreign invasions and yet have clung to their determination to live side by side, creating the Arab world's most open and tolerant society, and a place where the liberal values of the West naturally coexist with the traditional mores of the Orient.

Downtown Beirut

Nowhere is Beirut's resilience more apparent than in its reconstructed city center. In 1990, Downtown was in shambles, a deserted no man's land, a ghost town.

Just over a decade later, Downtown has emerged as Beirut's most fashionable and desirable neighborhood, with gloriously restored French Mandate-era buildings, European and Lebanese cafes, world-class restaurants, luxurious boutiques, and stylish pubs. Maarad Street, with its arabesque arches and sidewalk cafes, is unquestionably the beating heart of Downtown. Its main artery leads to Nijmeh Square (Place de l'Etoile), with the 1930s Art-De-ower at its center.

The Lebanese Parliament, also completed in the '30s, is another stunning example of Lebanese Art-Deco architecture. West of Nijmeh Square stands the Grand Serail, the seat of the nation's Prime Minister, with its neo-Ottoman clock tower, which was designed by famed architect Youssef Aftimos in 1897. Other notable sights Downtown include the St. Louis of the Capuchins Church; the neo-Ottoman Beirut Municipality, which was also designed by Aftimos; the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. George. The Emir Munzer Tannoukhi Mosque, and the Maronite Cathedral of St. George.

Marina

Located within a short walking distance from the Beirut souks, the glittering hotel district and the city's historic core, the Beirut Marina is one of Downtown Beirut's major attractions.

During the 2004 summer season, the marina welcomed close to 130 boats. Once fully developed, it will be able to provide safe harbor for 300 boats, ranging in size from five to 50 meters.

The overall plan will connect the marina to the surrounding area and provide public access to the town quay.

The first Beirut International Jazz Festival took place at the Beirut Marina in 2004. Sea-related events included Mediterranean theme regattas, artistic performances, fireworks and laser shows aboard ships.

Saifi

Saifi epitomizes Solidere's concept of an urban village, with a detailed plan that takes into account the preserved urban fabric, a network of green spaces and pedestrian ways paved with cobblestone. Services include a nursery school, a polyclinic, convenience shops, galleries and sports and recreation facilities for area residents. Saifi also has its own Quartier des Arts, a lovely cluster of art galleries, antique stores and artisans' shops.

Beirut Souks

For more than 5000 years, Beirut has been the gateway of trade routes, capitalizing on its strategic location as a major Mediterranean port.

The Beirut Souks are located at the heart of the city's primary road network, adjacent to the expanding port, the hotel district and historic core, with a direct link to the newly redeveloped international airport, and will be linked to the greater Beirut transportation network.

The Beirut Souks are re-emerging as the major modern regional commercial destination of the third millennium, and will play major role in reactivating the city center of Beirut, both financially and culturally.

The Project

Modern shopping district in the heart of Beirut. The souks constitute a unique environment that integrates archeological features and gardens consecrating the historical value of the place. The built up space is more than 100,000 sqm of diversified retail and leisure environment including:

- International department store / 17,000 sqm
- Entertainment complex comprising 14 screen Multiplex 20,000 sqm
- 200 retails shops of different sizes on pedestrian streets 45,000 sqm
- Offices / 19,000sqm
- Food hall and gourmet stores / 3,500 sqm
- Jewelry Retail Area including 100 shops / 7,000 sqm enclosed in a secure environment
- Restaurants, coffee shops, etc. / 4,500 sqm
The Souks benefit from state of the art infrastructure and underground car parking facilities for approximately 2600 vehicles.

The Souks themselves constitute a pedestrian area where visitors can stroll along streets, some covered and protected from the sun, such as Souk Al-Jamil and Souk Al-Tawileh and other open to the sky, such as Souk Ayyas, for shopping and entertainment in various shops, restaurants and cafes.

The project combines the preservation of the site's architectural heritage with the technology of modern commercial centers. A unique environment, which integrates archeological features, gardens and modern urban furniture, is thus created, consecrating the historic value of the place and enhancing its attractiveness.

The construction of the southern part is expected to be completed by 2009.

The Souks Design

The design of the Master Plan sensitively incorporated the ideas of Lebanese and international award winning architects.

Rafael Moneo and Samir Khairallah and partners for the souks core.
Kevin Dash in association with Rafic Khoury for the jewelers souk.
Valode & Pistre in association with A. K. Kassar for the entertainment complex.
Dimitri Alatzos Asociados (Spain) for car park design and management systems.
Olivier Vidal for the souks open space planning and landscaping.

Beirut Souks a regional destination

A major regional commercial center and destination.
The major development in the SOLIDERE project.
Uniqueness and diversity, high quality infrastructure, design, location. Business opportunity and quality retail shops.
Creates a unique environment.
A major boost to the economy.
A complement of high street retail shops in the Beirut City Center.
The largest retail development in Lebanon building on 5000 years of experience.

Ashrafieh

Beyond Downtown, visitors can view the splendid late 19th-century and early 20th-century structures in the Tabaris and Gemmayze areas of Ashrafieh, which is located on the eastern edge of the city center.

Numerous art galleries and upscale antique shops dot the streets of Tabaris and Gemmayze, selling artworks and antiques from the 17th century and onward. Sassine Square, further up the hill, is a major shopping and commercial center, with some of the capital's most upscale boutiques lying along Elias Sarkis Avenue.

Closer to Downtown and also in the Ashrafieh area, Monot Street is Beirut's undisputed nightlife hub, with dozens of pubs and nightclubs housed inside renovated Lebanese homes and ultra-modern new structures.

Monot Street pulsates with activity, especially on weekend nights, as Beirut's fashionable youth bar hop up and down the scenic street.

Hamra

Once the Champs-Elysees of the Middle East, Hamra has undergone quite a change over the past 30 years.

The formerly upscale shopping street still vibrates with energy, but it now resembles other typical Arab shopping streets where visitors can purchase Middle Eastern rugs, souvenirs, and reasonably priced clothes and accessories while haggling over the price of the merchandise with the many vendors.

Moderately priced restaurants and cafes dot Hamra Street. A few streets down lie youthful Bliss Street and the splendid neo-Ottoman American University of Beirut campus.

Verdun

Further out west lies Verdun, Beirut's answer to Fifth Avenue, with luxury shopping outlets and high-end shopping centers housing some of the world's most prestigious designer brands. Built mostly after 1990, Verdun is ultra-modern, its shopping malls world-class, and its restaurants and cafes among the most luxurious in the country.

 

 


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