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Monday Talks > 2022 Winter
Monday Talk: 7 February 2022
Meeting open for joining at 6:45 pm Beirut Time (GMT+3 or UCT+3)
Talk starts at 7:00 pm and until 8:30

The El-Qaa Heritage Revival Project in North Beqaa
Alia Fares, Salam Kallas and Jamal Farha (English)

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Profile of the Talk
The mudbrick heritage houses of el-Qaa village are a living testimony of an ancient way of existence. Today, this vernacular architecture has almost been lost in more than 95% of the North Beqaa's ancient rural identity.

In between 2 mountain ranges in a semi-fertile valley, 36 houses are dispersed around the partially abandoned village in various quarters, building clusters, surrounded by shaded trees and green pastures, reflecting hundreds, if not thousands of years of architectural evolution.

Various fragile heritage elements build the rural fabric of each ochre-coloured house, with intact features, such as the 80cm thick insulating walls, mudbrick grain silos, delicately curved wooden shelves and closets in blue and green tones, underground bread ovens (Tannour), thick juniper and oak wooden beams across ceilings and elegantly carved doors and windows.

Having been abandoned or replaced by cement by their owners over the decades, these houses reveal the delicate nature, yet bio-climatic construction, resilient to climate change. They build the basis of a restoration project, that in turn will contribute to creating economic opportunities in the tourism sector in the North Beqaa. It hopes to reverse the depopulating process by shedding light on this raw earthen architecture, which is almost extinct.

The project is in its early stages so the presentation will cover not only the heritage revival project but also the sites that are worth discovering in the region of northern Beqaa, in additional to the historical information that Alia will cover in her intervention.
Profiles of Alia, Jamal and Salam
Alia Fares is an archaeologist, nationally certified tour guide cultural heritage advisor for Landward Research. She is currently conducting her doctoral thesis at the Archaeological Institute of the University of Cologne on Roman Architecture: The Roman Sanctuaries of Qasr Naous - History, Function and Mythology.

Her other roles include site director and heritage consultant for the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities; university lecturer for history of architecture at the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University and the Rafik Hariri University; archaeological consultant of KfW – German Development Bank in Lebanon.

Alia is "family" in Karaz w Laimoon having given us several talks and more importantly, has been our wonderful guide on 9 heritage trips all around Lebanon.


Jamal Farha
Jamal started his professional career as an engineer 30 years ago and soon found his aspiration in the entrepreneurship world. His ventures were in:
1) The Food industry. He started CMSS 18 years ago which supplied complete production lines for the food factories in the MENA region.
2) The Tourism sector: He established Lkaa Country Lodge 10 years ago in his village: El-Qaa. They promote a unique area in Lebanon and provide visitors with an unforgettable experience for the mind and body.
Currently, Jamal is working on developing a touristic strategy for el-Qaa to develop untapped sectors, namely: cultural and heritage, activities, religious and agrotourism.


Salam Kallas Nader: despite having an IT background and a current professional carrier in the international  telecom industry, Salam prefers to present herself as a person constantly looking for beauty around me and spreading an atmosphere of peace as per her parents' wish when they gave her the name of “Salam” in 1976 hoping that Peace will come upon our country!

The Covid Period helped Salam further develop her interest in art, culture and history and the sense of responsibility towards her community. During a hike in 2020 in my village Qaa, the call of the old abandoned mud-brick houses was so strong that she initiated with some friends a project to revive this cultural heritage that is about to vanish because of climate and the invasion of the cement.

Hoping to shed light on these centuries habitats will give them a chance to revive and rebuild the collective memory and the traditions of our region.
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