Villa Ibrahim Shaker

Then & Now

Explore Aley's Architectural Heritage

Palace fit for a

Built on one of the most strategic locations in Aley, on a hilltop with unrivalled views of Beirut, the villa of Saudi business magnate Ibrahim Shaker was constructed in the 1950s.

The main photograph above shows the villa in 1959, soon after completion – the trees which now all but obscure the residence from the road, were recently planted. In the driveway, Ibrahim Shaker’s private automobile collection. In the foreground, his three children.

These photographs provide a glimpse into the once lavishly decorated house – private parties with musicians and dancers.

Although it still bears his name, the villa of Ibrahim Shaker has been bought and sold many times – though, sadly, none of its owners has restored the building.

Rooms with a

Owing to its strategic location, with views spanning over Beirut and the mountain ranges, the house was heavily hit during the civil war, and further damaged during the Syrian occupation.

Glimpses of its former splendour still remain … a wounded hand-painted ceramic frieze of Persian horsemen at the main entrance … remnants of an ornate Arabesque-design ceiling … mauve ceramic tiles cling to a bathroom wall.

The castle of Ibrahim Skaker was used frequently in movies made in Lebanon during the 1960s.

Who was

Ibrahim Shaker was a business pioneer in Saudi Arabia and a member of the Administrative Committee of the first Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jeddah, founded in 1946.
At that time, the Committee comprised 13 members of Jeddah’s elite traders.

His company (the Arab Trading Company), located on King Abdul Aziz Street in the heart of Jeddah’s commercial district, was one of the first to introduce air-conditioning to the Saudi Arabian market.

Successful in securing exclusive importation and distribution rights of several major international brands, Shaker’s business interests included household appliances and air-conditioning (General Electric), cars (Chrysler Group), pharmaceuticals (Merck), tyres (Michelin) and power generators (Reston and Hornsby).

 

Man with a

Arab Trading Company installed air-conditioning in many prominent landmarks, including King Saud bin Abdul Aziz Palace in Jeddah.

Ibrahim Shaker is credited with having intricate knowledge of global trade conditions, a keen understanding of the strategies of the World Trade Centre, and held business partnerships with leading brands in diverse and different areas.

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Trading at the time was not necessarily easy for Ibrahim Shaker, the task made more challenging by the difficulty of movement and primitive means of transport. In spite of his well-known hatred of travelling in planes, this did not prevent Ibrahim Shaker from travelling and moving within KSA and beyond that, as required by his business. He travelled from one area to another in a multi-vehicle convoy – this, in fact, was advantageous in many respects, providing him with a unique insight into the country, building trade relations, enriching his knowledge of micro-markets and developing an understanding of the differing needs in all regions of Saudi Arabia.

The

Ibrahim Shaker had a distinctive presence and was highly regarded, particularly in the western regions of Saudi Arabia, especially in the cities of Medina, Mecca and Jeddah. He was known as the “white hand” (“generous hand”) for his charitable support at the level of individuals and institutions alike.

Ibrahim Shaker’s grandson, Hassan Ghazi Shaker, now oversees the highly successful Shaker Group company and its many subsidiaries, inheriting the traditions, initiative, courage and ambition which built a successful company for many generations to come.

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Heather & Sami Eljurdi

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