Under the patronage of the heirs of Alfred Moussa Sursock and Michel Ibrahim Sursock

The Grand Hotel Casino Ain Sofar built in 1892 by the Sursock family was for decades one of the most famous hotels in the Middle East. One that encapsulated the glamourous frivolous accounts of the 1920’s and the swinging 1960’s, luring Kings and Emirs, artists, socialites and diplomats from across the world into its chambers not merely for rest and slumber but for song, dance and poker.

Breezing through the Grand Hotel’s seventy five roomed corridors you can almost hear the secret deals being made between generals and ministers as celebrity love affairs nestled in the corners of the Monkey Bar.

The hotel was an unfortunate victim of the civil war, scarred by looting and destruction. However, under the care of one of its owners, Roderick Sursock Cochrane ( a direct descendent of Alfred Moussa Sursock) the grand architectural wonder is being carefully restored as an art and reception venue and is now opening its doors to the public once more.

In the year 2013, the Artist and Activist o f British nationality Tom Young known for his artistic and architectural interventions such as The Rose House and Villa Paradiso projects was invited to take up residency at the hotel. Four years later, the collaborative project came to fruition with the exhibition set to open on the 16th of September, 2018.

Young’s art practice encompasses the reexamination of memories and revival of abandoned spaces through art and restoration. He is primarily engaging with the hotel and the remnants left by former guests and residents as well as the adjacent disused train station. Young is responding to the history of the Grand Sofar Hotel that embodies a time capsule of imaginary narratives like the legendary Oum Kulthoum enjoying an Eau De Fleurs with Farid el Atrash and Asmahan on a summer afternoon.

Young settled in Lebanon ten years ago and has since adopted several derelict 19th Century palaces and mansions, some of which have flourished into cultural venues and others that remain under the uncompromising grasp of developers.

The Grand Sofar Hotel exhibition will comprise forty artworks on canvas spread across the ground floor in a curatorial attempt to transport visitors to suspended moments in history. In collaboration with Independent Art Curator Noor Haydar and Production Designer Tarek Mourad, the painting exhibition will also revolve around site specific object based installations, theatre, dance and music performance, art educational workshops with children and students from local schools and universities such as Beit Al Yateem - Abey Orphanage, SOS, Home of Hope, UNHCR - SWC to name a few.

Cochrane and Young intend for the exhibition to help reinvent the site and attract both local and international attention as a cultural venue. In turn, it is hoped that this will help regenerate the local area and Lebanon as a whole.

Private View: 15th of September, 2018, 4pm - 10pm Public Opening: 16th of September, 2018, 2pm - 10pm Runs until: 14th of October, 2018

Open Tuesday - Friday: from 11am - 7pm

Open Saturday & Sunday: 11am - 8:30pm Closed on Mondays

Shuttles are available every Saturday of the week from Beirut to Sofar Pick up at 3pm - returns to Beirut at 7pm

Contact Details +961 81369250


Witness, oil on canvas, 180 x 250 cm, 2018 

Hafla, Oil on canvas, 250 x 180 cm, 2018

End of the Line, Oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm, 2018

A suspended moment in time to transport viewers 40 years back prior to the Lebanese civil war that halted and paused the life in the corridors of the Grand Sofar Hotel.

Cups, jugs, musical instruments, poker tables, roulette wheels, telephones and letters all placed in relevance to their original location. It was site specific.

The exhibition ranged from 58 paintings and 5 site specific installations of found objects including a film screening of the Sofar Tapes.

The Program

Piano by Rupert Egerton Smith
Oud by Ziad El Ahmadie
Improvised Theatre Performance by Nadine Sures
Cliffhangers story telling evening
Musical performance by Nour Sokhn and Youmna Saba that resulted from an art residency at the Grand Hotel
Electronic performance by Jad Taleb in the empty swimming pool
Poetry reading by Ameen Rihani
Closing party with the Beirut Groove Collective and London based DJ Charlie hall. 

The program was designed to encompass different art forms and practices ranging from theatre performance, sound installation and musical events.

All the event were free of charge,  family friendly and private transport was arranged to accommodate visits from the capital. 

Learning Program

Art Workshops for hundreds of students across all ages and backgrounds, including university architects, international private schools, local public schools, orphans and refugee children. 

A corner under the cedar tree was devoted to children's visits and provided with art material. They were encouraged to paint and draw throughout the entire premises. 


Visual Language

The visual strata was inspired by the 1920's/30's
posters and flyers of events that took place at the Grand Hotel in the Monkey Bar and the main ballroom. 

The extended object labels delivered historical content in relation to the artwork and its positioning in the space.

Using Format