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Panoramic Views > Beirut

Minet El Hosn - Hariri

As well as being the major port of the East Mediterranean shore, Beirut, capital of Lebanon and coastal town, has several small fishing harbors called in Arabic Mina, Minet el-Hosn and Ain Mraysseh to mention only two. Here one sees the boats of the fishermen unceasingly engaged in their task. Considered from the point of view of town planning, Beirut is a city that extends far but many of the alleys that had antique charm have disappeared and been replaced by the modern Solidere project.

Rafic Baha’al-Dine Hariri, known simply as Rafic Hariri, the prime minister victim, came from Sidon. Businessman and politician, he made a huge fortune in Saudi Arabia. The son of a farm worker, he obtained a diploma from the American University of Beirut, the AUB. He bought up the French Oger society based in Paris and undertook the reconstruction of Beirut destroyed by an atrocious civil war. All-powerful in many fields such as banking, real estate, industry, agriculture and the media, Rafic Hariri was prime minister in five successive governments between 1992 and 2004.

He was the victim of a criminal attempt on his life on February 14th, 2005. Although his car was armor plated, he was killed immediately by an explosive charge of 1,800 kilograms, as were twenty others, while scores were wounded. A large area of Minet el-Hosn was devastated. A wave of demonstrations expressing protest and indignation took place throughout the land. Hariri was closely connected to the Saudi royal family and had Saudi nationality as well as Lebanese. A large section off the population of Lebanon took to the streets. The assassination of Hariri sparked off what many called the Cedar Revolution with the resulting departure of the Syrian troops from Lebanon at the end of April 2005. His mortal remains lie in a mausoleum in Martyrs’ Square put up near the mosque that he himself financed. An investigation of the affair was undertaken by the United Nations, with Lebanon alone contributing a yearly fifty million dollars to cover expenses.

To perpetuate the memory of the great man, two different sculptors were charged with creating a monument to be set up at Minet el-Hosn.

The Armenian artist Basmanyan conceived a statue a little larger than life representing Hariri standing by a stele carved by Basbous a little over six meters high. A small garden plot has been laid out to make the two works stand out. Facing the site of the explosion a little further away to the left is another monument composed of standards and flags from where after every midnight a light streams forth. The stature of Hariri is of realistic conception, while the column beside is more purely decorative and the group of standards is in freer style.

The political career of this man who has so deeply marked the life both of Lebanon and of its capital requires some witness to keep his memory alive. This has to be worthy of the work he undertook and of the worldwide shock caused by his brutal death. It speaks of a man with a great possible destiny and Minet el-Hosn, opposite the famous St. George Hotel, is now a place visited by many tourists within the zone of Solidere and the principal hotels.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- Statue of slain former prime minister Rafik Hariri: >> View Movie << (2010-09-15)
- Rafic Al Hariri Memorial: >> View Movie << (2010-09-15)



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