The Grand Serail has been opened to the public since January 8,
2001. Visiting hours are Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm, and everyday
from 3 to 5 pm.
The city center witnessed a
variety of cultural and leisure activities in the last quarter.
On the occasion of their
75th anniversary, Bang & Olufsen displayed audiovisual equipment
on a world tour. The exhibition, entitled '75 years of excellence',
was held in Beirut at the Waterfront Exhibition Center, from
February 23 to 27.
Between February 16 and
March 2, a street market was held daily from 4 to 10 pm in the
In the Foch-Allenby area, the
Compagnie des Arts gallery was inaugurated on February 27 with an
art exhibition featuring the work of Egyptian artist Omar El Nagdi.
The seventh Lebanon
International Book Fair, sponsored by parliament Speaker Nabih Berri,
was held in a marquee in Martyr's Square on March 15 to 25. With 160
publishing houses from many countries represented, a wide selection
of books was on display. A number of lectures and debates were
organized during the exhibition. Different events are planned in the
marquee throughout the year.
Lions Club of Lebanon and Jordan, in collaboration with SOLIDERE,
invited Lebanese architecture and engineering students to submit
plans for a 4,000 m international garden. Sections of the garden, to
be located on the old seashore in the Zeytouneh area, will represent
countries participating in the project. 125 designs were submitted
by February 24. Results were announced and prizes were presented by
the club governor Gaby Gebrail at the New Waterfront Exhibition
Center on March 23. With 15 winning designs chosen, the first prize
went to Natalie Maroun from the Lebanese University for her design
of an Austrian garden.
With the suspension of
works in the Ministry of Finance headquarters project, SOLIDERE had
put on hold the transformation of the city center dome into a
conference facility. In line with its pre-war vocation as a cinema,
the dome was used on March 23 for the screening of the German film
'Run Lola Run'. This was followed by a dancing party. The event was
organized by Artcore-Kentertainment.
A treasure hunt was
organized on March 24 by the international congregation of All
Saints church. Around 100 participants of all ages enjoyed learning
about the city center. The trail on foot involved many stops, with
games played on the way. These involved answering questions relating
to landmarks and restored buildings; counting steps up to the Serail
hill, benches in the Roman baths area, willow trees and flagpoles in
front of UN House; and bowling on an empty lot. Points were gained
for correct answers, with extra points for collecting such items as
a feather, a purple flower (not to be picked from the planted area),
and a Lebanese flag (a kindly army officer on duty near Parliament
helped participants by handing out paper flags). The winners
received prizes in the form of vouchers from restaurants.
Khalil Gibran garden
be a garden without walls, a vineyard without a
guardian, a treasure house for ever open to passers-by.
tribute to the Lebanese writer and artist of international renown,
the Gibran Khalil Gibran garden was officially inaugurated on March
30. The ceremony was held under the sponsorship of Prime Minister
The public garden, planned,
executed and financed by SOLIDERE, constitutes a formal entrance to
the city center, facing UN House.
A bust of Gibran by Zaven
Hadichian, presented by the Gibran Khalil Gibran Association, was
unveiled during the ceremony. It is the latest example of public art
adoring the garden.
conferences organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for
West Asia (ESCWA), were held at UN House during last quarter.
85 schoolchildren from
South Lebanon came to the city center on March 9. Their visit,
organized by the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP),
included UN House, Parliament building and SOLIDERE.
The 14 - to 18-year olds
voiced their aspirations and concern about job prospects, and wished
for more cultural and leisure activities in their home towns and
children, accompanied by their parents, visited Planet Discovery on
March 12. A marathon day will be held on May 20 in Martyrs' Square
to increase public awareness of the problems associated with autism.
On its second anniversary
on March 15, Planet Discovery inaugurated the Traffic Safety
Educational Garden, created in collaboration with the Beirut
Cosmopolitan Rotary Club.
450 students from
government schools were invited to visit the children's science
museum and attend the inauguration.
In the purpose-built
driving circuit equipped with special miniature cars, children ages
7 to 15 are trained in driving and taught road safety rules. The
project aims at instilling a sense of civic duty in the young, by
encouraging them to drive safely and learn the traffic rules at an
The Microsoft Electronic
Library website design competition was launched on March 27. With
entries to be submitted by May 20, winners will be announced on June
7, on the Library's first anniversary.