Lebanon’s “Hall of Fame,” located north of Beirut in Zouq Mosbeh, breaks the standard wax museum mold in a few odd ways. First of all, its figures are made of silicone, not wax, enabling animatronic components that allow figures to move and “speak.” And secondly, it’s the closest one can get to brushing shoulders with a slew of current, former, or perhaps soon-to-be-overthrown Arab leaders.
Alongside an animatronic Saddam Hussein offering a handshake and the former Iraqi Information Minister Mohamad Said al-Sahhaf denying that U.S. troops had breached Iraqi borders in 2003, the museum features deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak holding court with Saudi King Abdullah and deceased leader of the Palestinian Authority Yasir Arafat.
Considering Lebanon’s complex sectarian system of politics, it is surprising that nearly every faction is represented in silicon at the Hall of Fame. From the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt to the assassinated head of the Phalange party Bachir Gemayel, the only conspicuously absent figure is Hezbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah.
Also popular at the Hall of Fame are silicone molds of Egyptian and Lebanese songstresses Um Kulthoum and Sabah, American presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and Albert Einstein. The museum promises figures so realistic that you “are sure to notice the pores on their skin.”
Know Before You Go
From Beirut: Travel north toward Jounieh, right after you pass the Naher El Kalb tunnel. Turn right toward Ajaltoun, then turn right toward the grotto of Jeittaand. Entrance 200 meters on the right.