While all lights were directed to the new Metro in Dubai…
Suddenly, public transport is ‘cool’ for Arabs. Thank you Dubai. (360east)
Arabs are car crazed. This is one generalization that is safe to make.
And Arab elites, are big car crazed. That’s another generalization safe to make.
No wonder that public transport systems across the Arab world have not really evolved since the 1960s. Increasingly fueled by easy oil money, and increasingly alienated from the needs of the masses, the health of cities or the safety of the environment, ruling and economic elites have made Arab cities into car cities. From Beirut to Cairo, and from Amman to Riyadh, it’s cars, cars and more cars. Cars cool. Busses Bad.
But as the Sheikhs of Dubai rode the US 7.8 Billion Metro tonight at 9 pm 9.9.09, suddenly, modern public transport has become cool.
… I couldn’t but remember sadly that many many years ago, the working train in Lebanon connecting Beirut to Damascus, even to Istanbul, Baghdad (Iraq) and Hijaz, in Saudi Arabia.
Here are some stories and pictures found on the internet:
Al Mashriq has an article about the Middle East Railways:
In 1891 a French company obtained a concession to build a railway from Beirut to Damascus and this was soon merged with a Belgian project (CF en Sync) for a line to Muzeinib serving the rich grain area of the Hauran. Formed in Paris, the Societe des Chemins de fer Ottomans Economiques de Beyrouth-Damas-Hauran at first planned a metre gauge adhesion line but the difficulties involved in ascending the Lebanon range behind Beirut resulted in the adoption of the Abt rack system for part of the route.
The rack locomotive leaving the reversing station at Aley
en route for Bhamdoun, the next station up the line, 1974
The main road at Bhamdoun on a downward trip
Beirut main train station, 1895 (from Skyscrapercity)
Tramway on Riad Solh Square in 1965, last year for the tram
And of course…
From 1st January 1961 all the railways in Lebanon became state-owned, known as the Chemin de for de l’Etat Libanais (CEL). Traffic on the 1.05m line steadily declined and often the only passengers were Sunday excursionists using coaches attached to a freight train; not surprising perhaps when the train took two hours to get from Beirut to Aley compared with 30 minutes by bus.
What remains today:
Siestske recently stumbled upon the Chouit–Araya railway station
Ms. Tee also took those pictures of the Shweit-Arayyah train Station:
And finally, what remains of the Rayak station: