Beirut has become the coastal city without a shore.

In the few decades after the end of the civil war, the Lebanese coast saw many changes, many of which were made to accommodate huge resorts and projects that were popping up. But despite this privatization and carving of the coast, the Dalieh peninsula (Minet el-Dalieh,) close to the famous Raouche Pigeon’s Rock, remained a public space and a go-to spot for Lebanese people from all walks of life.

(Image via Beirut Report)

Unlike the upscale beaches of Beirut where the entrance fees alone can range anywhere from $30 – $40, the Dalieh provided a free opportunity for people to take their families to enjoy a day at the beach or have a picnic on the grassy fields above. The Dalieh peninsula also had natural caves that were routinely used by fishermen whose families have been there for centuries, fishermen who have become part of the social and cultural canvas of Beirut. Additionally, it served as a festive space during the celebration of Iranian New Year “Nowruz” celebrated by many of Lebanon’s people of Kurdish ancestry.

That was all until last year, when the small area was sealed off from the public by barbed wire and security guards patrolled the parameters, making sure nobody would trespass this previously public space. The photo below shows some of the natural caves in Dalieh being destroyed to prepare for construction.

(Image via Fadi Mansour on Facebook)

To add insult to injury, the homes and cafés of the residents and fishermen of the Dalieh area were bulldozed to the ground on Saturday May 2, reportedly without any previous warning.

The bulldozing was done at dawn and was backed by the police, with residents who protest getting allegedly beaten and threatened with arrest. Afterwards, the residents who had made Dalieh their home for centuries were left to rummage through the rubble in hopes to save some of their personal belongings as seen below.

(Image via Beirut Report)

But let’s call it like it is: it’s not like this public space was well-preserved or up-kept by the government in any way. In fact, it was often civil society and NGO’s that held beach clean ups in order to turn it into a semi-hospitable area for people and their families. With the grotesque absence of public space in Lebanon, the Dalieh area was the last living symbol of freedom for the people.

The fencing off of the Dalieh area is the latest exploitation of the Lebanese coast and its natural formations in order to make way for yet another monstrosity; and with tourism at a steady decline since 2009, we can’t help but ask: what is the point of this investment?

In Lebanon, it has become clear that the sea is reserved for those who can pay; there is no place for the Beirut’s working class.

Join the civil campaign to save Dalieh and participate in their event taking place on Sunday May 18th, to fly kites, enjoy the space, and protest the privatization of al-Dalieh.

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nice place

on Dec 5, 2016 via for Android