Rare pictures have been published by Saudi media, showing the late Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the late Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, in Lebanon during a visit in the 1950s.
At the time these black-and-white pictures were taken, Fahd bin Abdulaziz was still a prince and had not yet inherited kinghood from his brother Khalid, which he eventually did in 1982, retaining the throne until his death in 2005.
Around the mid-20th century, Lebanon was living through its Golden Age, during which it was very common for members of royalty, in addition to politicians and wealthy people, to visit and explore its many popular attractions.
During that period, for instance, the Beirut Hippodrome was considered one of the busiest in the world, and, in fact, it was the only place to bet on horses in the Middle East.
The founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz himself, would often attend the hippodrome to witness the weekly horse races whenever he was in Beirut, as would Saudi princes and other world leaders.
This was but one of many spectacular attractions that the country, which enjoyed financial power and stability and was famously more open than its neighbors, used to draw large numbers of tourists every year.
Despite the political crisis that emerged near the end of the 1950s, Lebanon was living true to the famous nickname it had earned, “Switzerland of the Middle East,” and projecting its unique glamour to the world from the midst of the developing region.
That Golden Age, though long-gone, represented everything people loved – and still love – about Lebanon, despite its seemingly neverending problems.
Those who have memories from that time are the lucky ones. Those who don’t, in the meantime, can try to live the experience of ’50s Lebanon through the amazing pictures and footage that have made it through the decades.
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