O1NE Beirut: Sky high and bass down low

Inside the latest addition to Lebanon’s clubbing scene

O1NE's graffiti façade
A more colorful Colloseum

After almost ten years’ absence, Sky Management, the team behind SKYBAR— Beirut’s first and most iconic rooftop nightclub — has come back with a blast, bringing O1NE to posh Beirut partiers in December of last year.

Admitting a rotation of around 2,500 clubbers every Friday and Saturday night and fully booked — with a long waiting list — until it closes for the summer in May, O1NE seems to have been worth the wait.

“For us, O1NE personifies the ultimate clubbing experience in many ways. O1NE is an architectural landmark, a technological breakthrough and an entertainment haven,” says Abraham Helal, business development and marketing manager for Sky Management.

“The future of clubbing is the visual”

The original purpose behind launching O1NE was to expand Sky Management’s business by offering a winter venue to complement SKYBAR, which only operates in the summer. “This is the grain of the idea, but O1NE became more than that; we used the experience accumulated in SKYBAR to correct mistakes, perfect the good things and implement everything inside this new space,” says Helal.

A total of $10 million was invested in O1NE, an amount the company claim was the most spent on a club in Lebanon to date. In a period when other clubs are moving abroad, Helal says the investment was partly of the company’s faith in the country. “History has shown us that Beirut always triumphs and while rough times are rough times, there is a prominent Lebanese clubbing society that is our customers,” he says.

O1Ne’s location, on Beirut’s Waterfront, was chosen following the team’s positive experience with nearby SKYBAR — in an area with vast, empty space for parking, minimal neighborhood disturbance and proximity to both the city and its eastern suburbs.

For the club’s design, Sky CEO Chafic El Khazen was inspired by Rome’s Colosseum — which he considers one of the most notorious entertainment venues in history. O1NE’s circular layout, designed by Chafic’s brother and architect Sari El Khazen, is a tribute to the famous landmark.

O1NE's light show

Driving up to the venue, one is greeted by a larger-than-life graffiti wall — covering the front of the cylindrical club — depicting people dancing and singing. The 3,500 square meter façade is the work of 16 international graffiti artists and is being considered for inclusion in the Guinness World Records as the biggest privately owned graffiti canvas in the world.

The 1,000 square meter interior is 18 meters high — equivalent to a five story building.

Technologically it has both three dimensional projections and 360 degree mapping which allow for a full, unobstructed view of images. “The future of clubbing is working on the visual and complementing the music and atmosphere with something the eye can enjoy, which is motion graphics. Today if a club has no visuals you feel something is missing,” says Helal.

To clubbers, the combination of 3D mapping and 360 degree projections means that they can feel they are dancing the night away in Moulin Rouge one night and underwater the next.

Music wise, O1NE is relying on resident DJs due to the difficulty of attracting international talent amid Lebanon’s tense security situation.

Still, the club is performing better than expected, achieving the same numbers in winter months that they have reached with SKYBAR in the height of summer when tourists are more plentiful.  The Sky Management team, on the back of the club’s success in both Beirut and Abu Dhabi, is also planning to take the concept beyond the region to Europe or the United States.

And locally, Sky Management is moving into the food and beverage industry with the management of Liza, a Lebanese restaurant in Paris they’ve licensed to replicate in Beirut, and the renovation of La Crêperie in Jounieh.

Nabila Rahhal

Nabila is Executive's hospitality, tourism and retail editor. She also covers other topics she's interested in such as education and mental health. Prior to joining Executive, she worked as a teacher for eight years in Beirut. Nabila holds a Masters in Educational Psychology from the American University of Beirut.

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