By Noura Saad | Hay Khabriyeh!
This past Saturday I was privileged to visit Baabda Presidential Palace as a tourist. It has recently opened for the public, and the LAU SINARC group I was going with was one of the first visitors there.
Entrance to the palace is free for all, it just requires filling the required forms and taking an appointment. Of course, knowing someone that knows someone that is a relative of someone working there is always helpful.
Lebanese flags and army officers greeted us all the way leading to the palace. When we first got to the parking lot, patriotic songs by Sabah, Mjida el Roumi, Julia Boutros and others filled the air. Surrounded by this thrilling mood, I couldn’t help but forget all the political turmoil going on in the region and feel the pride to call Lebanon my country.
The one-hour tour was surprisingly well organised. We toured the many halls and conference rooms in the palace. We visited the president’s office where he spends most of his time, and we walked in the Presidents’ Garden where the tradition is for every visiting head of state to plant a Cedar tree. The last one, we were told, was planted by Pope Benedictus XVI.
In every room, the tour guide gave us a detailed explanation, including important historical happenings in it. Ushers, guides and security personnel looked professional, approachable and friendly. The tour ended by a short documentary about the history of the palace, and the restoration and expansion efforts taking place.
The only thing that needs improvement in my opinion is better reception for foreigner visitors, taking time to explain to them in their language, or in the global English at least, and providing the documentary in other languages, or subtitling it as a minimum. Nonetheless, when I raised those concern to our guides, yes we had many guides and ushers accompanying us, they made the extra effort to care to our needs.
All through the tour, and to compensate for not allowing us to take pictures, the presidential media team was taking our photos, and here are few captures form our visit: