July - September 1 9 9 9
Summer in the city center

    In good weather, Beirut city center provides an ideal public space for people from all walks of life. Sometimes they take the air in its squares and gardens, or simply stroll or bicycle along its tree-lined streets, enjoying the sight of its restored or new buildings. A great number
assemble regularly to participate in a variety of cultural, social and leisure activities. The city center has been bustling this summer with a profusion of events that stretched late into the night. It has been a natural and exciting venue for activities held in Beirut as the UNESCO-designated cultural capital of the Arab world for 1999. Parliament and the Grand Serail were opened to the public on September 18 and 19, within Lebanon's participation to 'Heritage Day', along with 44 European countries.


Architectural design and real estate exhibition

    Held by Ghilde in Riad El Solh Square between August 27 and September 4, this exhibition presented information on the city center reconstruction and development. SOLIDERE displayed its own projects and services, including integrated property management services. Other developers and architectural firms also displayed their new construction and restoration projects, and the public was thus provided with details about available commercial, residential and office space in the city center. Societe Immobiliere de Presse, Al-Makassed, Wakf al-Roum, Fochville, Orient Gate, Erga Group, Ahlia School, Antoine Khawam, Shaker and Oweini, Lebanon Invest, Paramount Group and the Lazarist Fathers, were among the 22 participants.

Summer Festivals

    A festive ambience filled the Foch-Allenby, Roman baths and Minet El Hosn areas this summer. Musicians, artists, artisans, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, magicians and storytellers

celebrated culture and life in general. Every night, visitors could enjoy concerts, watch shows and parades, relax in open air cafés, or shop at antiques- and other street market stalls. 'Culture reaches to the streets', a festival held between July 15 and August 22, started with a colorful parade. Storytellers and displays, carried on a 28-m  train pulled by an 'elephant', presented 'Beirut Across the Ages' highlights: Beirut a cultural city, the old Souks, the port, the Phoenician alphabet, Fakhreddine, Hannibal, famous Beirutis.
The festival featured an Armenian circus and vertical dancing shows, performed by the French Companie Retouramont on the facades of restored buildings.
    In the Roman baths, classical and oriental music was performed by such renowned artists as Walid Hourani and Charbel Rouhana. E.E. Schmidtt's play,  
'Enigmatic Variations', directed by Mounir Abou Debs, was interpreted in colloquial Arabic by Antoine Kerbage and Jihad El Andari.
'Beirut Nights' was a popular arts and crafts festival held between September 2 and 12. It was opened with fireworks, a flight of doves, folkloric music and a scouts' parade. Participants performed music and songs, or exhibited artworks, handicrafts and cottage industry products. Visitors also had the opportunity to sample delicious Lebanese fruit and traditional sweets and drinks.

Photo Exhibition

   The Maarad arcades were chosen as the culminating point of Photography Month, the roving exhibition organized by the Ministry of Culture, the European House for Photography and the French Cultural Center. The setting befitted the exhibition theme 'Another look at the Lebanese and French artists were displayed, ranging from landscapes to historical sites, old houses, handicrafts and traditional scenes.