Room with a view

This was the view from my hotel room in Beirut last week. Two men, with not so much as a hard hat or a ladder between them, were erecting a scaffolding at the Phoenicia Hotel on the opposite side of the road.

They only used planks on the level where they were currently working and at 6pm, when the day's work was done, they scrambled down swinging from pole to pole, monkey fashion.

There's construction work going on all over Beirut at the moment and dangerous practices like these are more or less the norm. The workers, of course, are foreigners (often impoverished Syrians) so it doesn't matter if they get killed. They can easily be replaced.

Considering the Phoenicia charges between $310 and $1,100 per night for a room, it doesn't have much excuse for employing cheapskate contractors who put people's lives at risk in this way. It's also part of the giant international IHG group ("Great Hotels Guests Love") – so how about setting an example by applying international health and safety standards?

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 15 June 2010.