The reconstruction of downtown Beirut has helped turn Lebanon into a popular tourism destination
Following the end of the 15-year Lebanese civil war in 1990, local joint stock company Societe Libanaise pour le Developpement et la Reconstruction de Beyrouth (Solidere) was put in charge of rebuilding the centre of Beirut.
The masterplan to reconstruct the financial and commercial area was developed by local consultancy Dar al-Handasah and approved by the government in 1994. Work began on repairing basic infrastructure with an estimated $550m scheme covering roads, water and sewerage networks, power distribution, street lighting and telecoms links. It was followed by a contract to design and build a sea barrier, and then the development of building plots.
Solidere initially found it hard to attract companies into the district, but by late 2001, the downtown area was booming, with the fastest-growing retail rents in the world after prices rose by 150 per cent in 12 months.
Income from early property sales and rent enabled Solidere to kick-start a scheme to redevelop 100,000 square metres of old souqs called Souqs of Beirut. The $99m project was finished in 2011 and included a four-storey gold souq, a shopping mall, a leisure complex and underground parking.
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