January - March 2000
Kathryn Gustafson wins Hadqat as-Samh competition


   SOLIDERE announced on March 20 the result of its international landscape design competition for the Hadqat as-Samh (Garden of forgiveness). The design submitted by Kathryn Gustafson of Gustafson Porter Ltd, USA/UK, was chosen by an eight-member international jury, among six proposals contributed by landscape designers from Germany, Lebanon, Mexico, UK, USA/Japan and USA/UK.
   The Garden will lie between Nejmeh Square and Martyrs' Square, on the 2.3-hectare Cardo Maximus archeological site, also possibly the location of Fakhreddine's 17th century gardens. Targeted for opening in spring 2002, it will be one of the key public spaces along the Heritage Trail, a walk that will circuit the historic core, linking its ancient sites and historic buildings, bringing to life the city's multi-layered past and making it an exciting and accessible experience.


    The Garden's theme is based on an idea by Alexandra Asseily, a psychotherapist and jury member. Through its highly symbolic meaning and impressive setting, the Garden is destined to bring people together into  a contemplative space.
    Having received the competition documents in August 1999, the contestants submitted their design entries on February 15, 2000. The competition jury made its decision, after listening to one-and-half hour

presentations by each participating team, which extended over March 17 and 18. The final jury report stated that the quality of Gustafon's imagination in fulfilling the brief would create a magical  space.
    The Gustafson design achieves a balance between the aims of protecting the wealth of archeology and displaying it in a natural setting, to provide a haven in the tradition of the paradise garden, calm and uplifting, a place for both solitary reflection and communal togetherness. The Garden is symbolically divided into three parts: the modern, the timeless and the historical. Drawing on the country's natural heritage, it invokes a feeling of unity and collective identity. The design in its simplicity has a poetic spirit.
    The winning design, along with the other competitor's designs, were available for public viewing from March 22 to April 2 at the BCD New Waterfront Exhibition center. The winning firm will complete the design in close cooperation with the Directorate General of Antiquities and on-site archeologists.
    A Fabriano-SOLIDERE painting competition will be held among schoolchildren around the theme of Hadqat as-Samh. A story written by Wafa Tarnowski will be published in a book, using the selected paintings and drawings as illustrations.



    On February 4, the Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammad Rachid Kabbani placed the cornerstone to mark the inauguration of restoration int the Majidiya mosque, located in the Souks of Beirut area. Eight places of worship are functioning in the city center, with restoration proceeding in nine other religious buildings. The Maronite cathedral will reopen with a ceremonial mass on St George's day.
    Two musical evenings were organized in heritage buildings by the Association of Monuments in Music and the French Culturel Center. On February 10, Suzanna Klintcharova gave a harp recital at the former Villa Abdel Kader in Daouk street, currently under restoration. The restored St Elie church on Fakhreddine street was the venue, on February 27, for European and Arabic medieval music, interpreted by a lebanese quartet comprising Nidaa Abou Mrad, Fadia el-Hage, Maria Makhoul and Ali Wehbe.
    The Arab League held its ordinary meeting at the Foreign Ministers' level at the Beirut Grand Serail, on March 11-12.

    On February 20, Martyr's Square was the scene of the vibrantly colored go-carts racing around a cordoned-off track. The event was organized by the Automobile and touring Club of  Lebanon, as part of the Shopping and Tourism Festival in February.
    The Grand Theatre provided a nostalgic setting for the February 26 fashion show featuring Georges Chakra's collection for spring and summer 2000.
    A paper rally, held by the New Hekmeh group on their 12th anniversary on March 5, allowed 150 scouts and guides from the ages of 8 to 15 to test their knowledge of Beirut city center's history.

   Oussama Kabbani, town planning manager at SOLIDERE, lectured on January 26, on the 'Integration of archeology in the urban planning of the city center of Beirut'. The lecture was organized by the society of the friends of the American University of Beirut musuem.
    SOLIDERE was invited to take part in a peace-building seminar in Cartagena, Colombia, organized by the US embassy over the weekend of February 18 to 20. The conference was entitled 'In the business of peace: private enterprise contributions to conflict resolution'. It presented to an audience of some 200 delegates private sector initiatives in Central and South America and in  other parts of the world. SOLIDERE was represented by Angus Gavin, planning advisor to the Chairman, who gave a paper entitled 'Beirut city center renewal: postwar regeneration by the private sector '. Presentations were also made by delegates from South Africa, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador and the Council of the Americas.

Hadqat as-Samh press conference and exhibition

The six landscaping designs presented by the participants to the Hadqat as-Samh competition were displayed during twelve days at the New Waterfront Exhibition center of the BCD.
    The exhibition opening, on march 22, was preceded by a reception on March 21, attended by a large number of Lebanese and foreign personalities, including the current and previous ministers of Culture Mohammad Youssef Beydoun and Michel Edd, Public Works minister Nagib Mikati, the Greek-Orthodox and Greek-Catholic bishops for Beirut, Monsignori Audi and Kallas, the HRH the Prince Wales' representative Simon Ellis.

    Addressing the audience, SOLIDERE chairman and general manager Nasser Chammaa congratulated the winner Kathryn Gustafson on "a brilliant response to this extraordinary design challenge, which would create a visitor destination second to none in Lebanon and bring alive 5,000-year history of Beirut to young and old".
    After being selected as the winning landscape design entry for the Hadqat as Samh, Kathryn Gustafson had explained her plan for the Garden in a press conference on March 20.

Planet discovery

Formula One

SOLIDERE was approached by the Fdration Internationale d'Automobile (FIA) for the organisation of a Formula One racing event. Several meetings were held to explore this possibility, and a quick exercise was made to ascertain that the BCD road network can accommodate such a world event.

Planet discovery continued to attract large crowds this quarter. In addition to scientific experiments, the children's science musuem offers children the enjoyment of its garden
    To celebrate the National Day of the child, 500 schoolchildren from remote areas of Lebanon were invited by UNICEF to Planet Discovery on March 21. They travelled by buses to Beirut and the museum, where they had a chance to discover the fascination which science can present.
    Through Planet Discovery as the local coordinator, school teachers registered their classes in an international competition on the the theme of water. Helped by their teachers, the children are to prepare reports on this subject, covering geographic, historical, cultural or economic aspects of the environment.
   The entries will be evaluated in June in Paris, and the prizes, including a trip to Paris for the first winning class, computer equipment, educational books, and CD-ROMs, will be presented at la Villette. The event will be attended by representatives from the sponsors, which include the International Federation of French Teachers, air France,la Gnrale des Eaux, Havas and la Cit itself   

SOLIDERE premises

Having restored, on behalf of all co-owners, lot 157 Marfaa A in the Foch-Allenby area, SOLIDERE has moved there two of its departments, soon to be joined by important firms and prestigious boutiques. New users are lined up for three other Company buildings, recently emptied as a result of the overheads streamlining program.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of SOLIDERE approved the auditor's report and the financial statements for 1999 and finalized its yearly report to the shareholders. The Board called for a general of shareholders to be held on May15 at 10.00 am, at the Bristol Hotel.


Performance of the shares during the 4th quarter

   SOLIDERE shares remained steady at their quarterly highs during the first month of trading before some profit taking pushed their prices down. Share A reached a low of US$6 3/4, while share B reached a low of US$7. Volume picked up at these low levels, as buying interest returned noticeably. The A shares closed the quarter above their lows at US$7 1/8, a 14.9% decline compared to the previous quarter closing level, while the B shares closed the quarter at US $ 7 3/8, A 13.2 % decline compared to the previous quarter closing level. The breadth turned negative as sell volume outnumbered buy volume by a 3 to 1 margin.

Share price (US dollars)      Trading volume