BEIRUT — The Rachid Karami International Fair in Tripoli is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the UN body said Wednesday, in a long-awaited announcement that could help with preservation.
The World Heritage Committee used an emergency procedure to inscribe the site, due to its low level of conservation, the lack of financial resources for maintenance and the latent risk of development proposals that could harm the integrity of the complex.
Inscription on the UN list is meant to provide access to international, technical and financial assistance.
The modernist, concrete site was designed 1962 by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer near the historic center of Tripoli, with a main expo building shaped ling a boomerang.
Construction of the fair came as Lebanon sought modernization policies in the 1960s and today remains as a notable example of 20th-century modernist architecture in the Middle East.
In response to the news, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, himself a native of Tripoli, described the announcement as a "qualitative achievement for Lebanon and all Lebanese and first and foremost for the city of Tripoli."
"We hope that the Rachid Karami International Fair will now have the international attention it deserves," he said.
In Sept. 2022, the project to renovate an abandoned pavilion on the fairgrounds was one of six winners of the Aga Khan International Prize for Architecture. The award, established by the Aga Khan Development Network in 1977, "aims to identify and encourage building concepts which successfully meet the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence," according to a statement from the network.