SEPTEMBER 7, 1998
Another battle in Beirut
IT seems that there are not one but two projects to run a Grand Prix in Beirut in the year 2003. Bulgarian-Lebanese businessman Georges Boutagi announced at the Hungarian GP that he is behind a project to run a race in the downtown area of the city. This project is understood to involve Gerard Saunala, a Franco-Lebanese businessman who owns Sport Auto magazine in France and former racer Nabil Karam, who is well-connected with the local automobile club. This group has a draft agreement for a race with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula 1 Administration.
Another Lebanese businessman Khaled Altaki claims, however, that he has been promoting a Beirut Grand Prix for the last four years on a circuit which would run beside the sea and has asked Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Al-Hariri to adjudicate in the dispute.
Al-Hariri owns one of the countries largest construction companies - called Solidere - and this has the contract to rebuild Beirut city center...