A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Riyadh al-Solh: May flowers, from Hizbullah

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 27, 2008

Last Friday afternoon, H needed to stop downtown to run an errand before we headed up to his parents for dinner – so I went with him. We both used to work near Parliament Square, and we went there last Wednesday night, so the new-old downtown wasn’t new to us.

But we still weren’t used to driving there.

Can we take Bank Street? H asked me.

I have no idea, I replied, unhelpfully.

Well, we could – and we could even park in one of the formerly khassa lil-khaymat lots.

While H did his thing, I admired the resurrection of Riyadh al-Solh Square. Here’s a general shot (wasn’t the sky beautiful that day?):

Notice the man in yellow off to the left in the photo above? He was one of about thirty Hizbullah-affiliated workers, busily sprucing up the square, the parking lot, and anything else that needed their attention. I saw parking lanes being repainted, walls being resurfaced, parking bumpers being reinstalled, and, of course, flowers being planted.

They must have been working all day. Here’s a small sample of the number of empty flower- and tree-pots I saw stacked behind the square:

I was amazed by how tidy they were. The stacks may not look very tidy, but given the number of flowers they planted, and the amount of topsoil they added, the area around Riyadh al-Solh was very clean. And I bet that they cleaned up everything before they left – this was a crew whose members clearly took pride in their work.

When I had finished ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the flora (I don’t have a particularly green thumb, but I come from a long line of women who do – and sometimes genetics gets the better of me) H pointed out that there seemed to be something more going on.

He was right: when the men finished their flower-planting, they carefully brought this tree over to rest near a hole that had been dug for it. But they didn’t plant it:

The tree had a little plaque on it stating (in Arabic) that it was a “tree of national unity”.

I have no idea who was planting the tree, but there was a big press conference on one side of the square, after which a whole bunch of men trooped over to this little tree and began, collectively, to plant it.

It was very sweet, although a little awkward – tree planting is not something that can be done by twenty men at one time, unless maybe the idea is that everyone helps by grabbing a branch.

I’m sure the men involved were all very important – but evidently none were as important as this cameraman, who appeared out of nowhere and then stood directly in my line of sight without so much as an “excuse me”:

Happily for me, he was soon shoo’ed away by one of the works crew supervisors, since he was standing right on top of the flowers they had planted.

Here’s a shot of the post-planting:

I have my doubts as to how long the national unity will last, but I hope that the tree puts down deep roots.

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7 Responses to “Riyadh al-Solh: May flowers, from Hizbullah”

  1. moose said

    This last ‘floral’ message is truly a diamond. Yes, Solidère is being solidly groomed and it will be nice when they extend its borders to include other parts of Berytus that need preping. Oh, and I am so glad that the tree they chose was a spruce. Spruce trees do have nice long roots. Had they planted a palm tree, which has hardly any roots, perhaps it would have better represented the dis-unity Lebanon has endured for so many centuries.

  2. intlxpatr said

    I love this post. And thank you for giving us some inside sights of the transformation of the new Lebanon. LOL@Moose.

  3. Thank you for a great post and keeping up with Lebanese events. I will try to do the same on my site: Farid Abboud

  4. Thank you for a great post and keeping up with Lebanese events. I will try to do the same on my site: Farid Abboud

  5. moose said

    Farid,
    Keep your finger away from that SUBMIT COMMENT button.

  6. hana said

    His was a climb for peace. Farouk Saad Hamad Al-Zuman made a call for prayer from the summit of Mount Everest, a first to be recorded in the Islamic history of exploration and adventure. Not only this, he was the first to perform prayer

  7. Moose, too funny! I wish I knew my trees better – your comment (and the suggestion of a palm tree) was well done!

    Khalti, thank you! It was fun to write!

    Mr. Abboud, welcome, and thank you for visiting. (Moose, the double posting might be due to Lebanese internet issues – I’m sure that I’ve double posted on some innocent bloggers’ sites before!)

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