Huge new US embassy complex in tiny Middle Eastern country is astonishing

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The huge new US embassy complex in Lebanon is controversial for its sheer size and luxury in a country where almost 80% of the population is below the poverty line.

Located about 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) from downtown Beirut and built on the site of the current embassy, ​​the new US compound in Lebanon looks like a city in its own right.

Spread across a 43-acre site, the complex in the Beirut suburb of Awkar is almost two and a half times the size of the land on which the White House stands and more than 21 football fields.

Many Lebanese on Twitter wondered why the US had such a large embassy in their capital. Lebanon is smaller than Connecticut and has a population of only six million. Few American tourists travel to the country as the State Department has put it on third highest tourist advisory level, but it does have a sizable population of Lebanese American residents.

“The United States moved to Lebanon??” Sandy, a social media activist, wrote.

“Maybe you will have enough space to work on all pending visa applications,” Abed A. Ayoub, national executive director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, tweeted, responding to the grandeur of the new complex.

Computer generated images released by the embassy show a state-of-the-art complex that features high-rise buildings with tall glass windows, lounge areas and a swimming pool surrounded by greenery and views of the Lebanese capital. The complex includes office, executive and service housing, community facilities and associated ancillary facilities, according to project site.

From the pandemic to the 2020 Beirut bombing, Lebanon has been hit by a series of crises that have left its economy in shambles. Many Lebanese cannot afford basic necessities, including food, medicine and electricity.

“Let them eat concrete,” wrote another user.

Plans for an embassy complex were announced in 2015. reportedly worth $1 billion.

Its construction is overseen by the Overseas Buildings Operations Bureau (OBO), which oversaw the construction of a number of other U.S. embassies around the world.

The US Embassy in Lebanon did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The US has had a turbulent history with Lebanon. It is the home of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the most powerful group in the country, but nonetheless maintains friendly relations with the US.

Last month marked 40 years since 1983 bombing US embassy in Beirut, which killed 63 people, including 52 Lebanese and embassy staff. In October of that year, a bomb exploded in the Beirut barracks housing American and French peacekeepers, killing 299 people.