Khan El Franj is a heritage site and cultural center housing Saida’s most renowned events and ateliers. Situated at the waterfront of Saida’s historic district, Khan El Franj was built during the Ottoman mandate to accommodate foreign merchants and promote their commerce in the old city in order to develop and preserve international trade, especially with European markets. Khan El Franj was the center of trading activity in Saida up until the 19th century. Khan was destroyed during the Lebanese civil war yet later restored in 1993 by Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development, in coordination with the French Government, owner of the site.
Ever since the restoration was completed, Hariri Foundation has been responsible for managing and directing the facility upon agreement with the French Government. The site also hosts the French cultural center “Institut Français,” with which Hariri Foundation coordinates seasonal and exceptional activities.
Today, Hariri Foundation moderates the use of the different spaces of Khan for multipurpose operations. While providing offices and working spaces for different entities such as the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Social Affair’s Beit El Mohtaref to operate daily, Hariri Foundation operates the Khan Courtyard and Grand Hall to host international, national and local festivities and formal events organized by the international and local stakeholders.
Since its rehabilitation, the site has played various roles at the local and global levels, including the center for Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and a platform for the Centennial of Greater Lebanon. Hariri Foundation strives to promote the role of Khan El Franj as a center for dialogue and reconciliation through organizing conferences, forums, development seminars, and numerous cultural and artistic festivals and celebrations. The facility also hosts Hariri Foundation’s Saida Cultural Center, established in 1982 and relocated in 2003.
Khan has been agreed to promote the touristic potentials of Saida as well as to contribute to the reconciliation and integration between residents of the marginalized neighborhood of Saida’s historic district and residents of the greater city of Saida and neighboring towns.