At a time when Lebanon’s economy is in shambles and the country is hit with economic collapse along with a rising humanitarian crisis, a lavish US embassy complex that is under construction is piquing the interest of commoners in the Middle Eastern nation.
The compound is located about 13 kilometres (about 8 miles) from the centre of Beirut. Stretching across a 43-acre site, the massive US embassy compound in Lebanon can be taken as a city of its own, as per CNN.
The size of the complex is mammoth and it can be better understood when seen in comparison to some of the well-known structures of our times such as the White House itself. The compound which lies in the Beirut suburb of Awkar is almost two-and-a-half times the size of the White House land. The huge building is over 21 soccer fields in size.
Backlash over enormous US embassy building
Twitter is flooded with condemnation of the monumental building. Lebanese are raising questions over the need for this expansive complex. On February 1, a US travel advisory cautioned its citizens to reconsider travel to Lebanon due to crime, terrorism, armed conflict, civil unrest, kidnapping , and the Beirut embassy’s limited capacity to provide support to US citizens. It said that some areas have increased risk.
In view of the risks, not many Americans travel to the Middle East nation. However, there is a substantial population of Lebanese American residents in the country. Lebanon is home to about only 6 million people.
Areawise also, the country is small. As per reports, the country is stretched in an area of only 10,452 square kilometres (4,036 sq mi). It is even smaller than the US state of Connecticut which has an area of 13,023 square kilometres.
A social media activist Sandy said, “Did the US move to Lebanon??”
“Maybe you’ll have enough room to work on all those pending visa applications,” tweeted Abed A. Ayoub, national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
“Let them eat concrete,” another user tweeted.
What does Beirut’s new US embassy campus have?
The buildings are clustered on the eastern half of the site to promote walkability, with recreational open space and flexibility for future expansion to the west, as per the US embassy’s website.
The complex includes “comfortable waiting areas, shaded gardens, and an art programme featuring site-specific commissions from international and Lebanese artists.” Extending from the chancery, ribbon-like residential buildings frame the campus’ central service and circulation corridor, a community “main street” with outdoor plazas and dining facilities for embassy staff.
The campus employs resources that are sustainable in nature. It also includes lighting controls, solar adaptive shades, sound masking systems, flexible furniture.
Aftermath of Beirut blast and COVID pandemic
The 2020 Beirut blast and the COVID pandemic struck a dual blow at the Lebanon economy. As per reports, the embassy complex has cost a whopping $1 billion. Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) oversaw the building construction.
The 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut resulted in the deaths of 63 individuals, including 52 Lebanese and diplomatic staff. This year April marked the 40th anniversary of the tragic event.