It seems some people think that Lebanon is a dangerous place to venture. I could of course tell you all kinds of stories of how this is not accurate. Jad Aoun is doing a pretty good job trying to set the record on Beirut straight. But I kind of like this bad reputation, and so today a post on probably the most dangerous place of entire Beirut! Absolutely lethal. Well, it could be. In theory. It happens to be a place at the bottom of my street. Curious?
It’s the Ferris Wheel at Rauche! The thing is positively ancient. Very much rusted. It’s operated by someone whose quality standards are probably quite different from mine. I doubt there’s any quality control whatsoever in this place. It’s been there forever, stood through a civil war (1975-91), got blown over in a storm (March 1998), survived a particularly strong bomb blast (June 13, 2007) , and seems to be running on empty for as long as I’ve lived here. There’s more rust than paint, the cable that turns the wheel around is seriously frayed and the little doors that close the carriages are not really closing very well. I tell you, it probably was already dilapidated when JC came on the scene.
It is part of the Madinat al-Malahi, Beirut’s Luna Park. And it’s been there since the sixties. I never wrote a story on it for my news paper, and as a result, do not have any first hand info. I do know that it belongs to the Rifai family, and old Beiruti family, who – through inheritance – share the property among a number of family members. The problem with that is that you’d need consent from all members involved when running the business, and it seems that certain family members see no value in investing in order to maintain or upgrade the property. As a result, the park, as well as the beach behind it, have become Beirut’s most run-down beach-front property.
They have been trying to sell (or sell the lease, as I believe it is government property that was leased for a 100 years, but don’t quote me on that), but again, there’s always this one family member who does not think the price is high enough, and refuses to put his signature. And so there they sit, with a property that could make them very rich, but greed prevents them from enjoying it.
But back to the Ferris Wheel. I have a daughter who’s got a fascination for the thing; rust and all. And now that her grandparents are in town, it’s a landmark we’ve got to ‘do’. It’s 2,000 LBP a ride, and this ride could last 3 rounds or 9 rounds, depending who’s behind the panel. This could be a gentleman of 40, but also a boy of 12.
|As old as the Ferris Wheel|