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Beirut's heritage buildings threatened by urbanization

Activists in Lebanon are demanding new laws to preserve heritage buildings, as chaotic urban planning and archaic laws are leading to the disappearance of Beirut’s oldest houses.
A picture taken on November 24, 2014 shows Ras Beirut's landmark Rose House, an Ottoman villa overlooking the Mediterranean in the heart of the Lebanese capital, that is a lonely reminder of Beirut's romantic past.  A rare survivor not just of the 15-year civil war that claimed so many of its historic mansions, but the building boom that came with peace from 1990, it is even said to haunt some of the Beirutis' dreams as a symbol of the lightness and beauty their city s
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In Beirut, historical or heritage areas and buildings are being replaced by shiny tall buildings. The Red House, the Rose House and the Laziza Brewery are symbols of the lack of urban planning in the Lebanese capital, where heritage succumbs to money.

On Feb. 3, Ghattas Khoury, the new minister of culture, issued decree No. 32, which removed the famous Red House — in the Ras Beirut area in Hamra, in western Beirut — from the list of protected buildings. It was only seven months after former Minister Rony Araiji put the house on the list through decree No. 95 in July 2016. Reportedly dating back to the 18th century, the Red House is one of the oldest houses in Hamra and has a rich history.

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