Comparative Views

A 1983 watercolor by Lebanese artist Amin El Basha (1932 – 2019) depicts Lebanese trying to lead a normal life by spending the day at the beach while the country was entering a new phase of the civil war sparked by the 1982 Israeli invasion. Off the coast are two warships from the Multinational Force (MNF) monitoring the volatile situation in the country. The photograph shows a young woman sunbathing at a beach club just north of Beirut as aircraft carrier USS America patrols the Mediterranean just off the coast. Phot. Norbert Schiller Collection


A unit from the U.S. army airborne take time off to ice skate at a rink adjacent to the main lobby of the luxury Bristol hotel in Beirut Lebanon in the summer of 1958. The Marines were sent to Lebanon to help stabilize the country after a crisis that disintegrated into violence and took on regional proportions. The Bristol was inaugurated in 1951 and with it the first ice skating rink in the Middle East. In 1980, three decades later, the Hyatt Regency in Dubai opened with an ice-skating rink in the center of the hotel’s shopping mall. In the second image, from 1988, shows young Emeratis enjoying their time on the ice. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller Collection, UPI (R) Norbert Schiller


In the early 1970s the ministries of tourism in Egypt and Lebanon promoted tourism through photo campaigns featuring models posing beside famous sites. These two images show a model posing at the Sphinx in Giza and another sitting in a bikini in front of Beirut’s Pigeon Rock. Phot. Norbert Schiller Collection (L) Sobhi Afifi, Egyptian State Tourist Administration (R) National Council of Tourism in Lebanon


The Chouit-Araya railroad station, shown here circa 1960 and then in March 2020,  was once part of the Beirut to Damascus railway built by the French in 1895. The train line was running until the beginning of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975. Today, Chouit-Araya, like all the other stations on this line, has become derelict and a large portion of the land that once belonged to the national railways has been taken over by construction. Phot. (L) Elias Maalouf Collection, (R) Norbert Schiller


Lebanese fishermen in the 1910s haul a fishing net ashore at Jounieh Bay, north of Beirut, in the hope of a good catch. The more recent image shows Turkish fishermen performing a similar activity in 1979, on the Bosporous Sea. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller Collection, Sarrafian Bros. (R) Norbert Schiller


French soldiers in the 1920s pose for a photograph near a Lebanese fishermen on rocks extending out into the Mediterranean in the area of Minet al Hosn, Beirut. A similar photograph taken in 2018, nearly 100 years later, shows Lebanese fishermen in Ain al Mraiseh, located near Minet al Hosn. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller Collection, Sarrafian Bros. (R) Norbert Schiller


The 13th century Crusader Sea Castle built on a small island in the ancient Phoenician port of Sidon, Lebanon, photographed in the 1880s, alongside a contemporary image from April 2019. The castle with its 80 meter long stone bridge leading to the shore, has witnessed numerous conflicts over the centuries and has been restored many times. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller Collection, Bonfils, (R) Norbert Schiller.


The old fishing port of Sur (Tyr) in southern Lebanon, taken in April 2019, alongside a colorized photochrome print of the same port town from the late 19th century. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller, (R) Bonfils, Norbert Schiller Collection.


Female students at Cairo University wearing the latest fashions in 1969 alongside their counterparts in 1999 leaving school. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller Collection, (R) Norbert Schiller


Workers cleaning up after the Sphinx underwent restoration. Circa 21 May 1998. An image of the Sphinx nearly 100 years earlier partially buried in sand. Circa 1890s. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller. (R) Norbert Schiller Collection, Gabriel Legekian


The Aleppo covered Souk before it was destroyed. Circa June 2004. The same Aleppo Souk in the 1930s. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller, (R) Norbert Schiller Collection, Photo Sport.


The USS George Washington (CVN-73) transiting the Suez Canal en route to the Persian Gulf. Circa August 1994. The British HMS Crocodile military transport ship transiting the Suez Canal en route to India. Circa 1880s. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller, (R) Norbert Schiller Collection, Zangaki Bros.


Jaffa Gate leading to the old city in Jerusalem. Circa August 2017. Bustling crowds outside Jaffa Gate. Circa 1880s. Phot. (L) Joseph Malikian, (R) Joseph Malikian Collection, Bonfils


The restored Roman Catholic Church of the Transfiguration atop Mount Tabor near Nazareth. Circa April 2016. A monk walks through ruins of an ancient church in the same location. Circa 1880s. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller. (R) Norbert Schiller Collection, Bonfils


Santa Claus surrounded by children as he arrives by donkey to the Swiss Club in Cairo, Egypt, in the mid 1990s. Santa riding a camel somewhere on the Arabian peninsula in the 1970s. Phot. (L) Norbert Schiller, (R) Norbert Schiller Collection

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