Bourj Hammoud gets face lift with new monument

BEIRUT: A brand new monument was unveiled in the Greater Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud.

Information Minister Tarek Mitri, Industry Minister Abraham Dedeyan, Bourj Hammoud Mayor Anto Misrelian and Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon Juan Carlos Gafo were at the ceremony to make public the mural and abstract sculpture along the neighborhood’s coastal road.

The mosaic and metal-work installations were designed and created by Lena Kelekian, a celebrated artist specializing in icon painting and restoration, who won the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal and Olympic Torch for the arts. Kelekian also collaborates with her husband, architect Hagop Sulahian, on urban art projects across Beirut.

“It’s high time we restore to the city the glamor it lost,” said Mitri, thanking Bourj Hammoud Municipality for taking the initiative to enhance the appearance of Greater Beirut. “Beirut’s image has been mutilated twice, through destruction and then reconstruction,” he added. “We should preserve what’s left of its glamor.” The location of the sculpture, Mitri noted, would allow motorists stuck in traffic to admire it from their cars.

“The Municipal Council [of Bourj Hammoud] is eager to offer the best to our city, as we believe in continuing the heritage of the past … and in the present, where we look forward to contributing to the prosperity of the future of Bourj Hammoud,” said Deputy Mayor Raffi Oglanian.

He said the sculpture and mural were part of ongoing plans to combat the dreary urbanized look of Beirut’s Armenian neighborhood.

“Bourj Hammoud, being a densely populated city, has been overwhelmingly covered with grey cement buildings and paved with black asphalt,” Oglanian said. “It was the idea of the Municipal Council to create green spaces and areas with artistic works that would embellish the city” and give a sense of calm to visitors, he added.

The Daily Star