Aley

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Aley
عاليه
City
Aley is located in Lebanon
Aley
Aley
Location in Lebanon
Coordinates: 33°48′29″N 35°36′45″E / 33.80806°N 35.61250°E / 33.80806; 35.61250
Country Lebanon
GovernorateMount Lebanon Governorate
DistrictAley District
Government
 • MayorWajdi Mrad
Area
 • City3.30 sq mi (8.54 km2)
 • Metro8 sq mi (22 km2)
Elevation1,968-3,117 ft (600-950 m)
Population
 • City100,000
 • Density30,000/sq mi (12,000/km2)
 Almost doubles During the summer
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)+3
Aley in the winter.
Panoramic view of Aley from Ras Il Jabal in summer 2014 (By Kamil Chehayeb)

Aley (Arabic: عاليه‎), is a city in Lebanon. It is the capital of the Aley District and fourth largest city in Lebanon.

The city is located on Mount Lebanon, 15 km uphill from Beirut on the freeway to Damascus. Aley has the nickname 'Bride of the Summer' (عروس المصايف) due to its cooler climate during the summer tourism season. Other nicknames include: 'Capital of the Mountains' (عاصمة الجبل); and the 'Lebanese City of Fog' (مدينة الضباب), due to its montane foggy weather.

Demographics[edit]

The permanent residents of Aley are predominantly Druze people, and it may be the city with the largest Druze population in the world. There also are residents of the Melkite, Eastern Orthodox, and Maronite Christian minorities. Many seasonal residents, especially from Arab Persian Gulf countries, own summer homes here to escape the extreme heat and humidity of the Persian Gulf Region.

Etymology[edit]

The word "Aley" derivatives from Aramaic, and means "high place," referring to the City's high altitude above sea level. (from 600m up to 950m)

History[edit]

Aley gained prominence upon the completion of the Beirut–Damascus Railway in the mid-1890s. The railroad provided the residents of Beirut easy means of transportation to the mountains, and this made Aley a popular destination to spend the summer months and enjoy its pleasant climate.[1][2] It was the site of a serious accident on 12 April 1904, when part of the locomotive exploded and the train fell backwards down the 7% grade, killing 8 and seriously injuring another 21.[3]

The city was for a while the summer capital of the Ottoman governors of Mount Lebanon. Kamil Pasha made Aley his capital and organised a Diwan, where he executed a large number of Lebanese and Arab martyrs who sought independence from the Ottomans. Also, a Jewish community once frequented this multi-cultural city, and they maintained a synagogue in Souk Aley,[4] but it has since been abandoned. In 2001, the municipality of Aley began renovating the downtown area, especially its historic souk, and the city quickly revived its role in Lebanon's tourism.[5]

Tourism[edit]

Aley is a major tourist destination in Lebanon and the Middle East. Its location and climate made it a favorable venue for shopping and dining, especially for wealthy Arabs from Persian Gulf states. This resort city with its increasing number of tourists and visitors has become the most flourishing resort in Mount Lebanon, and thus has garnered its historical name as "The Bride of Summers". The "Souk Aley" is a relatively long historical boulevard lined with palm trees; there are numerous redroofed stone houses erected on the east side of the street while several street cafes, outdoor restaurants, and nightlife pubs occupy its western side. In addition to these, there are tens of antique shops and retail boutiques along the street, which forms the heart of Aley. Aley also hosts a well-known casino and many public swimming pools like the Piscine Aley, Country Club and Heritage. There's also many hotels like the Highland and the Golden Tulip that has a bowling arena and a public swimming pool and spa. There's also malls in Aley like the Aley Center, and many Lebanese and international restaurants. In 1910 Aley received the founders of the American University of Beirut (AUB), they built castles and lived there for several years.[6] During the 1960s several artists performed in the hotels and the casinos of Aley such as Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Farid Al Atrash.[7] Aley is the capital of the Aley District and it has 18 municipality members.[8] In 2009 the municipality joined the Yasa in a safety program to reduce the rate of accidents.[9]

Educational and Health Institutions[edit]

The city contains 14 schools, 4 public and 10 private. The largest, oldest, and most important of these schools is the Universal College of Aley (UCA) which is considered one of the best schools in the country. It was built in 1907 by Mr. Shebl Khoury. There are also 2 universities in the city: the Lebanese University-Faculty of Economic Science and Business Administrations, and the Modern University of Business and Science (MUBS). There's also the Balamand University located in Souk Al Gharb in the suburbia of Aley. Aley has 4 hospitals: The National Hospital of Aley (30 beds), Al Iman Hospital (52 beds), Chehayeb International Hospital (45 beds) and Al Ouyoun Hospital, which specializes in ophthalmology.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aley.
  2. ^ Facebook.
  3. ^ "Unfall auf der Hauranbahn [Accident on the Hauran Road]", Die Lokomotive: Illustrierte Fachzeitung, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königliche Hofbibliothek, May 1904, p. 49. (in German)
  4. ^ Flickr.
  5. ^ ESCWA Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine..
  6. ^ "American University of Beirut - Natural History Museum - AbbyBliss". Aub.edu.lb. 1999-05-07. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  7. ^ William MATAR (2006-01-01). "City of Aley, sculptures symposiums, paintings, glamour, Abdul Wahhab, traders buyers, festivals crowd". Discoverlebanon.com. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  8. ^ "Municipality Members and Mukhtars for Aley Villages". Aley-Ads.com. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  9. ^ "YASA". YASA. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2013-01-31.

Coordinates: 33°48′N 35°36′E / 33.800°N 35.600°E / 33.800; 35.600