More than a hotel, the St. Georgeís built in 1929
became a myth and part of the Lebanese heritage. Standing
on a unique site, surrounded by the sea, it was designed
in the shape of a boat of which the circular front
terrace was the deck and enjoyed the advantages of
the sea front which carries its name.
1973, it was described by Fortune magazine as one
of the most beautiful hotels in the world and until
1975 it was the cosmopolitan center of Beirut city
and the privilege of the most successful local and
international personalities. Many kings, ministers,
and political leaders were the guests of the Hotel:
King Hussein of Jordan and his family, the Shah of
Iran and Princess Soraya, French Ministers Artoli
and Malraux, Georges Bush before he became President
of the USA, Cypriot leaders, the Aga Khan and the
Begum, the King of Afghanistan, the Prince of Abu
Dhabi Chakhbut Ben Sultan El-Nahian, and a Prime Minister
of Great Britain to mention only a few.
stars have also been seen in the Hotel, among them
Brigitte Bardot, Charles Aznavour, Johnny Hallyday,
Catherine Deneuve, Alain Delon, Gilbert Becaud, Abdel
Wahab, and Oum Koulthoum.
well-known journalists, businessmen, diplomats and
other important personalities met regularly in its
famous bar: the Marquis de Cuevas, David Rockfeller,
John Paul Getty, the Comte de Paris and Isabelle of
France, Abu Said, correspondent of Time magazine,
Muhamed Hasanein Heykal, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian
daily Al-Ahram, and the famous British spy Kim Philby,
who was seen in the Bar just before he disappeared.
Lebanese personalities figured Former President Camille
Chamoun, who was the Honorary President of the Board
of Directors of the Hotel, Mr. Raymond Eddeh, Mr.
Kamal el Assad and Emir Majid Arslan.
during the war, the Hotel was completely destroyed,
looted and occupied. For Time magazine, this marked
the end of Lebanon and it pictured the St. Georgeís
in a black frame on its front page.
all Lebanese and foreigners who have known the prestige
of the Hotel and have been awaiting its reopening
as a symbol of Lebanonís rebirth with the beginning
of the new millennium are surprised to see it still
closed whereas development in the Hotel region is
being carried out. The questions are: Why is the St.
Georgeís being kept without repair? Why is work still
delayed? Who will compensate for all the losses incurred?
1994 when Fady El-Khoury decided to revive the Hotel,
he has been living a real nightmare facing most alarming
and inextricable problems preventing him from implementing
his plans for reconstruction. A major conflict has
arisen between the Saint George and Solidere, because
the latter has been favoured against the former while
it should be the contrary, as the Saint George is
an inseparable and essential landmark without which
Beirut cannot be reborn.
1994 a Decree was issued by Mr. Rafic Hariri which
allowed the Saint George to be rebuilt with nine levels
instead of seven within the same basis and a marina
to be built exactly opposite the Saint George hotel.
As soon as the above decree was finally promulgated
and just after the owners of Saint-George thanked
Mr. Hariri, Solidere started a legal action against
the Saint George.
DECREE TURNED OUT TO BE A SNARE OR A TROJAN HORSE
INTENDED ONLY TO ALLOW SOLIDERE TO ATTACK THE SAINT
GEORGE AND TAKE OVER ITS RIGHTS
decree overlapped with one issued two months earlier
for Solidere, which gave it the right to expand in
a maritime area outside its boundaries into an area
that belonged solely to the Saint George, hence violating
all standing rules. This can only mean that Mr. Haririís
intention was not sincere and that he gave the Saint
George misleading encouragement for it to invest but
trapped it in endless problems with the Government.
1995 Mr. Hariri issued Decree 7660, which approved
a Master Plan for the Hotel area, yet the disputes
remained unsolved until 1997, when political pressure
was applied in order for Saint George to start implementing
the said decree and an agreement was signed with the
CDR. This decree divided the area into five sectors.
triangle in front of the Phoenicia Hotel and HSBC
was defined and intended as a public underground parking
for 350 cars. The Saint George signed a contract with
the CDR to execute at a very high cost this parking
through a BOT. This contract was kept in abeyance.
Suddenly, through the Mouhafez and the Municipality
of Beirut, the Sector 3 was illegally divided into
a construction area for the statue of Mr. Rafic Hariri
and a new road to go through it, thus keeping the
public road to be used privately for access to the
Phoenicia Hotel. Now Solidere is proud to have built
a parking lot for 350 cars, whereas the need and expectations
would be for thousands of cars to serve the area.
4 - Passages / Roads
decree stated that roads and entrances pertaining
to this sector should be designated for public use
and be considered public property. Soldiere again
violated the decree by turning the roads and entrances
into private property. The Saint George management
and lawyers have been warning the Government and the
officials concerned through all possible means. This
reached the General Inspectorate, and the plots were
not registered as public property. Thus the situation
remained confused and undecided and at the discretion
of the ministers of finance, who might hand over the
Government properties to Solidere.
5 - Marina
hotel management was allocated one third only of what
was its right. It accepted and executed all the work
requested, from digging four to five meters into the
sea and building the Quay as per the specifications
of the CDR. The Government approved and received the
work as complete and as per the agreement.
IT TURNED OUT THAT THIS WAS ANOTHER SNARE.
soon as Saint George built its part of the Marina,
Solidere started a series of actions in order to separate
the Saint George Hotel from the sea, that sea which
is integral to the Saint George site.
Solidere has done is totally inadmissible.
put up signs to stop boats from entering the Saint
directed the sewers inside the Marina instead of extending
them a little further in the open sea.
placed barges across the main entrance to the Marina
to block the passage.
built a huge wall that does not comply with any of
the Lebanese laws, which restrict the height of a
wall to six meters.
is blocking the main entrance to the Marina west of
the Saint George Hotel; in this connection Fadi El-
Khoury was arrested in one instance, for which he
has brought a lawsuit against the police. The case
is still pending.
is obvious and clear to everyone that the intentions
of the directors of Solidere are to landfill as much
of the sea as they can lay their hands on, including
the West Marina, having illegally filled in the Lagoon
between the Saint George Hotel and the Beirut Commercial
Port. Solidere was penalized for it but a decree was
issued making the illegal landfill 100 per cent owned
by the Government contrary to the sharing agreement
to which Solidere is partner.
filled in the East Marina, which is nowhere to be
has laid hands on the land surrounding the West Marina
and blocked public passages and walk ways. This land
was sold to a company owned 50-50 between Solidere
and Mr. Safadi, ex-Minister of Transport, who is normally
entrusted with the safe-keeping of the country's public
water domain and its adjacent land.
Safadi issued 3 Decrees in three month bypassing all
the regulations in regards to the land he has acquired
illegally and built a nine level building underneath
the road hence blocking the only remaining sea view
for the Saint George.
permit was issued by the Governor Mr. Kaloush in 2007
initially for 3 basements plus a ground floor and
one mezzanine to which he added 4 additional floors
just after the elections in 2009.
Solidere is blocking intentionally the Saint George
sea front with boats including one ugly rusting metallic
Saint George whose name is synonymous to the Sea is
not allowed to use its Marina, which historically
was the first of its kind in Lebanon.
irregularities and illegal trespassing are obvious
to everyone, and yet, no one in the Government is
objecting. For the first time in15 years the minister
of tourism Mr Fady Abboud tried to intercede in favour
of the Saint George but failed to convince the ruling
majority. The Saint George is regularly and consistently
opposing every one of their actions but the concerned
courts are not responding.
without the Saint George Hotel is like the Cedars
without its trees and Baalbeck without its columns.
Hotel Saint Georges: >> View
Movie << (2010-09-15)