The Quarterly '96
January - March
The development of the Landmark Beirut Trade Center is one of SOLIDERE`s main current projects. When completed, the 40-story high-rise will offer 71,000 square meters of office space ,conference, restaurant and banqueting facilities, as well as underground parking area with a capacity for 600 vehicles.
Underpass facing Phoenicia Hotel opens for traffic This March, the underpass serving the north -western entrance to the BCD became the first to be completed and is now open to traffic in both directions. Work on the underpass serving George Haddad Street has also neared completion, while work on the Riad El Solh tunnel is proceeding on schedule.
Meanwhile, work on the culverts in the port, Weygand, and Hilton Hotel areas continues, as does the work on rainwater drainage networks serving the regions of George Haddad Street and the Hilton Hotel.
By the end quarter, SOLIDERE had received 119 restoration briefs for preserved buildings is the Central District .The briefs covered most buildings on Banking Street and a number of those in the Foch-Allenby area. BCD landmarks covered in the briefs include the complex known as Azarieh, the Capitole building , and the Oueini and Chaker building overlooking Riad El Solh Square.
In all of the briefs, special attention is given to the issue of public safety, a main concern of SOLIDERE.
Work is underway on the expansion of the Fouad Chehab ring road along the 1.5 kilometer long Tabaris-kantari thoroughfare.
Now at 240 meters, the overrpass will extend to 460 meters ,and to a width of 35 meters is some parts. Works are expected to be completed by mid-1998.
The Property Management Division is overseeing the final phase of the recuperation process involving the BCD`s preserved buildings. The process includes the recuperation of independent lots and those whose ownership are now shared between SOLIDERE and the original right holders.
As of the end of March ,121 buildings had been recuperated, while former tenants who have formally applied to return to the BCD now number 1022.
Meanwhile ,the demolition process is nearing completion .Of the 660 buildings designated for demolition ,only 29 remained standing at the end of the quarter.
SOLIDERE ranked as the eighth largest company in the Gulf and Middle East in 1994, according to the London -based Financial Times. The yearly ranking, based on company capital ,names the region`s 50 Largest enterprises.
The Saudi Arabian company SABIC tops the list, followed by Itisalat (UAE)in second place. They are followed by Saudi American Bank ,Riyadh Bank, Al Rajahi for Financial Services, and the National Bank of Kuwait.
Trading volume during the first quarter of the year remained relatively stable. The price of the share registered a small decline, stabilizing at the last closing for the quarter at $116.50 for shares of type A,and $114 for shares of type A,and $114 for shares of type B.
As of November 1995, the Secondary Market has been operating on the basis of two fixings a day.
The January opening of the Beirut Bourse now allows for trading in the shares of other Lebanese companies.
With the start of the year, a number of new developments in the city center are moving toward implementation .They include hotels ,housing and office centers ,banks-among them the Audi Bank in Minet El Hosn-and the Beirut Trade Center, formerly known as the Murr Tower.These developments are spread over the port ,Minet EL Hosn Zoukak EL Blat and Saifi areas
To date ,four new hotels are planned for the BCD:the Intercontinental Forum Hotel in the Saifi area and three others in the Minet El Hosn ,among them the Hilton Hotel.
The development of the 40-story high Beirut Trade Center ,formerly known as the Murr Tower ,is one of the most significant projects currently undertaken by SOLIDERE .The center will be the first in Lebanon to implement modern international standards of comfort and safety that facilitate access, communications and overall use in high-rise constructions.
Conveniently located within the business district, the Trade Center is close to the port, hotel district, Banking Street, parliament, the Council for Development and Reconstruction, the Grand Serail and the souks of Beirut .Also, it is just 5 kilometers from the airport.
A privileged address in the city, this landmark construction is endowed with an elegant architecture, offering its tenants all the modern facilities for an international business center.
The Beirut Trade Center will enjoy facilities associated with "intelligent buildings" that ease communications within and outside the buildings and allow for automation of all services.
A network of elevators will provide comfortable access to all the floors while fire safety measures ,video surveillance and an electronic light system will make possible the management of utilities throughout , including heat, air conditioning, lighting and alarms.A satelite link, through state-of-the art computer systems,will offer Trade Center tenants direct access to a wide network of communication services.
The total built-up area for the Trade Center will be 71,000 square meters including the refurbished Murr Tower and adjacent areas.
The Trade Center will consist of five main parts:office space in 34 stories, restaurants on the last two floors, a floor housing a control room and and electro mechanical instruments to service the building, a conference hall on the ground floor, and six-floors of parking space to accommodate 600 cars,in addition to an independent building serving as a principal restaurant.
The main building will be served by 12 elevators ,all equipped with audio systems,phones and fire safety measures. One of the elevators will be dedicated for service.
Fire safety measures cover all Trade Center areas and floors, and include insulating partitions and alarms -connected to an automatic central control post -that are sensitive to smoke or sudden increases in temperature.
One of SOLIDERE's concerns is to ensure the highest urban safety measures for all constructions in the BCD.
Standing building which are threatened by on-going infrastructure works are being reinforced through insulating excavations that may be as deep as 14 meters, or by the use of pillar fortifications.
A firm specialized in the protection of such buildings has been appointed by SOLIDERE to supervise the process.
A fire safety brief ,written by company engineers and consultant, imposes regulations and supervisory guidelines an all building designs and constructions in the BCD. The safety regulations are in line with those adopted internationally in such countries as the United States, France and Britain.
SOLIDERE is currently adopting or requiring these safety measures in all new developments or restoration works in the city center Modern installations for tunnels
SOLIDERE will equip BCD tunnels with the most modern methods of lighting and ventilation, fire warning systems as well as phone, and video cameras for observation.
In cooperation with ESCWA (the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia)and the Ministry of Social Affairs, SOLIDERE has completed a handbook on construction measures that assist the movement and activity of the physically handicapped. The adoption of these measures in the BCD will the first initiative of its kind in Lebanon.
In line with international norms ,the measures pertain to public spaces, pedestrian areas, building entrances and courts.
The project for the development and reconstruction of the BCD continues to attract the interest of visiting dignitaries from all over the world. During the first quarter of 1996, SOLIDERE was visited by France's Speaker of Parliament Phillipe Seguin, Defense Minister Charles Millon and Argentina's Minister for Presidential Affairs Alberto Juan at the head of a large information and economic delegation ,as well as Kuwaiti Minister for Industry and Commerce Hilal El Matiri
Other visitors included the president of the International Court of Arbitrage Alain Planet, a delegation from the Islamic Development Bank, the Director of the Middle East desk at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Toshiro Suzuki,a delegation from AIPEC comprising 33 company representatives ,an Arab Investment Company delegation headed by its general manager Ahmed El Malek ,the Australian Ambassador in Lebanon Ian Parmeter and the director general of Air France in Lebanon Jean-Jacques Coquet, in addition to a number of diplomats, businessmen, consultants, engineers, and newsmen from over 20 countries.
In its January 15,1996 article "Lebanon Rises from the Ashes , the U.S.-based weekly magazine TIME described the project for the reconstruction of the BCD as the largest of its kind since World War II.
The article drew attention to the archeological wealth of the BCD, quoting from company chairman and general manager Nasser Chammaa to the effect that, in the BCD, one can visit "5,000 years of history in a one -kilometer walk."
The SOLIDERE -organized Souk El Barghout or flea market, in the Beirut Exhibition Center in Martyrs'Square ,was again a tremendous crowd pleaser as thousands visited stands displaying a rich variety of crafts and antiquities. This sixth Souk El Barghout was held from March 22 to March 31.
Visitors were offered a flavor of the traditional pre-war souks of Beirut with the reintroduction of the legendary Aintabli Fountain ,once an obligatory stop for thirsty shoppers, and the recreation of some of Souk Ayass'streets.
The SOLIDERE model, says Dr.Hannes Swoboda , is an example for the reconstruction of the war-torn city of Sarajevo .In an interview with Monday Morning, Vienna's Executive City Councilor for Urban Development said he could "guarantee that Beirut is the best example in the world in this area because the reconstruction process is moving along quickly and in a credible way".
Dr.Swoboda told the Lebanese publication that he would be inviting representatives from SOLIDERE to present ideas on how to apply their experience to the city of Sarajevo during a conference on European cities scheduled to take place in Vienna.
Eminent British historian Lord John Julius Norwich visited Lebanon this accompanied by a film crew headed by producer Tony Sutcliffe.In Lebanon to research a lecture on the BCD archeological excavations, Lord Norwich visited SOLIDERE premises and interviewed archeologists and company officials .The lecture ,illustrated by slides and a 10-minute film ,will be presented at the Royal Geographic Society on April 24. A longer version of the film is being produced for television showing.
Organized by the British Lebanese Association ,the lecture ,entitled "Beirut Through the Ages", will feature Lord Norwich and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.
SOLIDERE's own creative department has also been busy producing a film ,the fifth in a series entitled "News About Beirut ",documenting the main activities of the company during 1995 .Also a documentary on landscaping in the BCD was produced.
Following an agreement with SOLIDERE ,10 movie theaters in Greater Beirut currently show these and other documentaries as part of their pre-movie program.
Damaged by war, the Martyrs' Square monument is currently undergoing restoration at the University of the Holy Ghost in Kaslik under the supervision of the director of that institution's Restoration Department Issam Khairallah .British expert Ruppert Harris has been appointed as a consultant for SOLIDERE and will assist in supervising the works through their different stages.
Financed by SOLIDERE ,the restoration is expected to take two years and will maintain some of the imprints of war.
The statue is the work of Marino Masucarati,of Italy ,and took 30 months to complete.
The 4-meter high sculpture ,first unveiled on Martyrs' Day on May 6,1960 ,will be returned to its original site once the infrastructure and landscape works in the area are completed.
Back to The Quarterly
1996 Copyright Lebanon.com Interactive.