Transforming a Town Into a Metropolis
The emerging of a new beirut, a greater beirut
Beirut saw a turbulent time during the initial years of the 20th century. The city population had encountered a growth spurt throughout the late 19th century, resulting in a cosmopolitan hub within the Levant at a population of roughly 120,000. The major implications drove the Ottoman government to establish Beirut as the capital of 'Damascus Vilayet'. Beirut emerged as a new governorate, distinct from that of Aleppo and Damascus, encompassing 30,000 kilometers squared of land from the Syrian coast of Antioch to Jaffa on the Palestinian coastline.
Beirut now would not only provide for its modest boarders, but have autonomy over Mount Lebanon, Latakia and Jaffa. This delegated major power to the Ottoman Walis and Beys of Beirut. The paramount Walis of Beirut that time were Naum Pasha ruling from 1892 to 1902 and Muzaffer Pasha who also held authority over the autonomous Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate as well. During then, the region was undergoing an economic decline and facing absolute corruption. Beirut was less effected and pursued prosperity. In 1906, Abdul Qadir al-Danna was elected president of the Beirut Municipality Council better know as 'Beirut Belediyye'. He was also appointed chairman of its trade council. During his term he eased the business life in Beirut to encourage economic growth, and he later on became renowned for his modern revival of an economic renaissance during the early 20th century.
economic boom of innovation
Many institutes emerged during 1907, where Beirut was strangle-holding onto its prosperity. One noteworthy was the Iqbal Newspaper, founded as one of the first, to mass produce newspapers and propagate them throughout the governorate. It competed with Beirut Newspaper, which was owned by the president's brother Mohammed-Rashid al-Danna. However, the real innovation of this era came at the hands of Gebran and Farajullah Bayda (The Bayda Brothers) who founded the Baidaphon (a record label publishing company that also manufactured gramophones). Being the first of its kind, no one in the middle eastern governorates had attempted at manufacturing such products. This was a notable industrial breakthrough for Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The Bayda Brothers struck a joint venture with Lyrophon to manufacture the Baidaphon, and ship it from Berlin to Beirut.
A musical hegemony or monopoly?
Beirut began exporting its products to the greater region. This resulted with the Baidaphon spanning its sales and operations from the Maghreb Region all the way to Iran by 1917. The Baidaphon was so dominant that it was adopted by Mohammad Abdelwahab (a prominent Egyptian artist) who set a joint venture with the deceased Bayda Brothers' successors to manufacture the Cairophone in Egypt. The build up to World War I would soon halt any further development and prosperity.
defining an ottoman and turkish demonym
The Ottoman hegemony over Beirut Vilayet's mutasarrifates and sanjaks came to a turning point following the Young Turks' Revolution of July 1908. The revolution sought to restore the Ottoman constitution of 1876 and to to ratify the electoral system of the Ottoman parliament. This would pave ground for reestablishing the Ottoman Empire as a constitutional monarchy. The new Ottoman constitution empowered the governors of its governorates, and mitigated the authority of the Sultan and the Divan. In Beirut, certain parts of the Wali's protocol were cut out to shape the new power of the president of the Beirut Municipal Council. A failed coup was attempted in 1909 to reinstate Abdul Hamid II as an absolute Sultan. However, it resulted in the Sultan's absolute down fall. Sultan Mehmed Rashad V would be the successor on the 27th of April 1909 and would also be the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
The devolution of beirut into a christian east and Muslim west
Later that year in Beirut, Abdul Qadir al-Danna was dismissed as president without an official successor. The resignation of the dismissed mayor spiraled Beirut down a political vacuum. The result was the division of the municipality into the Western District (for Muslims) governed by Minah Ramadan, and the Eastern District (for Christians) governed by Boutros Dagher. Both districts would still be mutually bound by the Ottoman Municipality Act of 1875, which confers on the mayor(s) to take responsibility over the management of all ports, lighthouses and public amenities. This was very one sided however, as most of Beirut's amenities were in West Beirut, such as the lighthouse, the Syrian Protestant College (later to become the American university of Beirut) and more importantly, the Grand Serail of Beirut. The two districts would eventually reconcile under Omar Bey al-Daouk during World War I following his mandate over Beirut, ending the political vacuum and returning life to its normal state.