BEACON OF HOPE
Modern art, antiques on show at Lebanon cube museum
the 64- 64-year-old, year- old, whose colorful, modern- modern-art art inspired tie contrasts with his gray suit. The project cost $ $7 7 million, the organizers say. But the works on show only represent a fraction of its founders’ private collections, and there are plans to switch the exhibits every few months. Adra’s personal collection includes 2,000 items from the Levant and Mesopotamia regions, according to the exhibition’s catalogue. The businessman says his hobby dates back to his childhood. “I’ve been collecting stamps and coins since I was 10,” says Adra, who now heads a Beirutbased polling company and owns quality control labs in the Gulf. He says it is time to give back. To set up the museum, he banded together with Syrian business partner Fida Jdeed, and fellow Lebanese entrepreneur Badr El-Hage, El- Hage, who runs a rare book fifirm firm in London. ‘Payback’
“We’ve all reached an age where we’re starting to ask ourselves, ‘What have you done? What have you given your country?’” he says.
In recent years, part of the region’s cultural heritage has been damaged, destroyed d d or looted l db by armed d groups including jihadists.
The Islamic State group in particular swept across large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, wrecking countless historical sites in territory it controlled.
Mahmud Al-Obaidi, who designed the museum building with fellow Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi, sees the project as compensation for years of loss.
“I feel this place is payback for everything that has been destroyed,” says the 53-year-old, who left Iraq in 1991 for Canada.
With governments in the region busy battling troubled economies and poverty, personal initiatives are key to preserving culture, he says.
Passing civilizations live on in their art, Obaidi says.