“The Green Line stuck in time” - Ronnie Chatah
The huge Holiday Inn hotel was only opened one year before the start of the Civil War. From the biggest and luxurious Holiday Inn in the Middle East, decorated with crystal chandeliers, shiny marble floors and luxurious furniture, it quickly turned into the main battlefield of competing militia. Initially occupied by the Phalangist militia (East Beirut), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) took over the building in March 1976. After two months, East Beiruti militia started firing at the hotel, urging the PLO to leave, and took over the building. In the summer of 1982, the PLO returned to the Holiday Inn and claimed victory against East Beirut and Israel, a reason for Israel to attack Beirut and demand the PLO to leave the country. After two months of fighting, the PLO was removed from Beirut and Israel declared victory in the Holiday Inn. During the remains of Civil War the hotel was used as a prime sniper position, which itself frequently came under fire. From 1990 until 2005, the hotel was in use by the Syrian Army, after which it was taken over by the Lebanese army who until now uses it as a storage place for weapons, munition and as a parking place for tanks. One of the reasons why the building is still there is that the owner - a Kuwaiti emir - so far has failed to make a decision about its future, probably given the fact that both renovation and demolition will require a lot of money. The only recent change to the building is the removal of the Holiday Inn logo, which was considered bad publicity and required a strong campaign by the InterContinental Hotels Group. Nice detail: the rotating bar at the top used to be Beirut’s fancy sky bar; a position now taken over by the Sky Bar in Biel.
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