VIDEO: Blaze rips through Zaha Hadid-designed Beirut souks building

Fire erupted in a building in Beirut souk. (Twitter)
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Updated 15 September 2020

VIDEO: Blaze rips through Zaha Hadid-designed Beirut souks building

  • The reason behind the fire is still unknown
  • The affected building was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects & Samir Khairallah & Partners

DUBAI: A fire broke out in a building in the souk area of Beirut, designed by the company founded by famous UK-Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, on Tuesday, as it underwent repairs caused by the devastating Aug. 4 blast.

Mobile phone footage shows flames lapping up the side of the building, and debris can be heard falling to the ground.

First Lieutenant Michel Al-Murr, of the Beirut Fire Brigade, told Arab News that “the fire was large, but firefighters were quick to respond and were able to bring it under control, preventing it from spreading further.”

Al-Murr said the fire was mostly on the exterior of the building which has materials made from “fiberglass and resin, and compressed.”

 

 

An investigation into the cause of the blaze is underway, but local media has quoted a worker as saying that black tar was being worked on at the site using a gas fueled flame.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects & Samir Khairallah & Partners, the 26,370 m² mixed use development, that is still under construction, includes retail and residential spaces and was due for completion in 2019 , but was delayed.

 

 

“The building was severely damaged by the Aug. 4 blast," Abdul Rahman Sultan, the owner of the steel company that was working on the implementation of the design of the building’s facade, told Arab News.

"The value of the damage was up to $7 million, and with this fire, the damage must have doubled,” he said.

“It should have been finished in 2019, but bad events continue in downtown Beirut, the date of its opening has delayed. Now, I doubt that it will rise again in light of these losses.”

Tuesay’s incident is Beirut’s second major fire in less than a week, on Thursday a blaze ripped through a warehouse in Beirut’s port area that contained aid.

It is little over a month since the devastating explosion in the city’s port, that killed scores and injured more than 6,000 people on Aug. 4, 2020.

(With agencies)


Egypt extends measures to boost country’s struggling tourism sector

Updated 32 min 9 sec ago

Egypt extends measures to boost country’s struggling tourism sector

  • The measures include the waiving of visa fees until April 30 next year for tourists visiting the governorates of South Sinai, the Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan
  • Businesses that operate within the tourism industry, including hotels, will not have to pay any fees or electricity, water and gas bills until Dec. 31 this year

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has extended the duration of a number of policies and incentives designed to boost the country’s struggling tourism sector, which has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures include the waiving of visa fees until April 30 next year for tourists visiting the governorates of South Sinai, the Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan.

Businesses that operate within the tourism industry, including hotels, will not have to pay any fees or electricity, water and gas bills until Dec. 31 this year. In addition, all debts owed by companies in the sector, including amounts accrued before the pandemic began, will be rescheduled, with no repayments due until Jan. 1.

A flight incentive program, which includes discounted airport fees for airlines, was extended until Dec. 31.

The government said that their decision to extend the measures beyond the previously announced end date of Oct. 31 is designed to support the winter tourism season, which runs from Nov. 1 until April 30.

The global tourism sector has been particularly badly affected by the effects of the pandemic. It is vital to the economies of many nations, including Egypt, but has effectively been closed down due to lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.

Bassem Halqa, who represents workers in Egypt’s tourism industry, said that the decision to waive visa fees for some of the country’s most popular destinations is a very important step in efforts to encourage tourists to return, and will have a positive impact on sector.

However, he called for the initiative to be extended to cover additional destinations, such as Cairo, Alexandria and Giza. He also urged the government to allow public beaches and hotel gyms to reopen.