On the grounds of the Tripoli International Fair (Rashid Karameh International Exhibition Center) in Lebanon, one finds one of the five largest exhibition centers in the world. The 15 structures, designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1963, remain unfinished due to the project’s abandonment during the country’s civil war in 1975.
The construction of a large international fair in Tripoli, the capital of North Lebanon, was the pivotal project in this new policy. It was set in one of the bastions of Arabism pulsating at that time, and not in Beirut, the country’s commercial hub, so it was heavy with symbolism.
Like the great fairs and expositions which marked the landscape of European capitals in the late 19th century and the flowering of major facilities called “international (or world) fairs” in the capitals of newly independent Arab countries, such as the International Fair in Damascus, set up in 1955 on the banks of the Barada, and the International Fair in Baghdad, created a year later, in the heart of the Iraqi capital.
The decision to create an international fair in Tripoli thus stemmed from a twofold symbolism aimed, on the one hand, at asserting Lebanon’s central role in the region’s economy and, on the other, at announcing the end of Beirut’s hegemony and the distribution of the fruits of growth in hitherto neglected regions of the country. With its 70 hectares/175 acres, the area chosen to house the fair seemed to be on a par with that goal.
Construction work got under way in 1967. It would last eight years and never be totally completed. It was in 1975 that Lebanon sank into a war which would bloody the country for 15 long years. The Fair buildings were successively occupied by the different militias controlling the city. It is even claimed that the Syrian army used them to store munitions.
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (December 15, 1907 – December 5, 2012), known as Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture. Niemeyer was best known for his design of civic buildings for Brasilia, that became Brazil’s capital in 1960, as well as his collaboration with other architects on the headquarters of the United Nations in New York . His exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of reinforced concrete was highly influential in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Both lauded and criticized for being a “sculptor of monuments”, Niemeyer was hailed as a great artist and one of the greatest architects of his generation by his supporters. He said his architecture was strongly influenced by Le Corbusier.
Niemeyer was most famous for his use of abstract forms and curves.
Oscar Niemeyer Fair Ground in Tripoli is not open all time to public, only in special occasion or you need to have a permission to visit it.