I think one of the strangest places in Beirut is the Pine Forest. As newcomers more than five years ago, we were eager to find parks and playgrounds. The Pine Forest, a huge green triangle located almost in the center of our Beirut map looked promising. So we went one afternoon.
It wasn't anything like what we had imagined. There were some ball courts, and a long gravel-paved arcade with trees and a fountain. But almost all of the huge green triangle on our map was completely fenced off--inaccessible to the public. No play equipment either. We were disappointed.
But we explored a bit more and eventually stumbled our way into this unusual place at the south end of the arcade.
To me, it looks like someone's ill-fated attempt to create either a very small, shallow lake or a rather large pool. It's filled with sand, but it still looks like it ought to be filled with water. Anyway, it's doubtless the biggest sand box I've ever seen. Obviously, kids love playing in the sand, scampering up the faux banks made of cement and sliding right back down again.
Someday, I'd like to be allowed into the areas that are fenced off. I'd enjoy walking the paths that are visible from satellite images of the city. If you're interested, you can read a bit about the park's history on this wikipedia page.