Written by: Rima Youssef
Translated by : Lina Yahya Raydan
NNA - "Bonjour Beirut" is a documentary film that talks about the old houses in Beirut and attempts to preserve them in absence of laws to protect them. It is a cry out by renowned media figure Georges Salibi on behalf of Beirut before the city becomes a picture in a book or a postcard and loses its cultural image.
Through this documentary film, Salibi aimed to shed light and warn about the gradual disappearance of the old heritage houses in Beirut through selling them for materialistic considerations.
"The disappearance of Beirut old houses has changed the city's face and identity on the urban and heritage levels, especially in the absence of laws that protect the old houses," Salibi said during an interview to the National News Agency.
"21 years ago, when the ministry of culture was first established in Lebanon, Minister Michel Eddé, at that time, cooperated with APSAD Association to protect the heritage sites by classifying the old houses which numbered up to 1800 houses and they agreed that these houses should be preserved, but that was a principle and not a law," Salibi pointed out, adding "now and after 20 years only 280 houses were left after others were sold in order to build towers and buildings in their place."
Salibi demanded through his documentary the "endorsement of a law that protects what is left of these houses by protecting their owners' rights."
The documentary included stories of some old houses such as Sursock Palace and Sehnawi Palace in Ashrafieh, the Yellow House in Sodeco, which will be changed to a museum and Dahech House in Zkak El-Blatt.
Some scenes feature famous actor Abdallah Homsi (known as Asaad) and others take us back to the old days of Beirut.
Salibi noted that the documentary contains testimonies from public figures and politicians such as: MP Walid Jumblatt, Minister Michel Eddé, Minister Raymod Areiji and Former Ministers: Tarek Mitri, Mohammad Youssef Beydoun, Selim Wardé and Gaby Layoun in addition to Beirut mayor Ziad Chbib, Raya Daouk and others, pointing out that the artist Jahida Wehbeh composed the music of the documentary film and gave it a distinctive touch.
Salibi said, "The documentary will be shown from 7 to 17 February on daily basis at Metropolis - Sofil in Ashrafieh."
Last but not least, it is necessary to stress the need to cling to and preserve our heritage because it reflects our origin and deep roots.