Last update:
2016-12-05

Ramlet el Bayda, Lebanon

The Ramlet el Bayda beach located on the seashore of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, is threatened by the ongoing privatization of most of the capital’s publicly used spaces, started during the chaos of the Lebanese Civil War.


Description:

On the 18 October, 2016, an image circulated widely on social media showing that construction had started on Ramlet el Bayda public beach in Beirut, which sparked outrage among civil society in Lebanon working on protecting public spaces. The project is to build a private resort, Eden Rock Resort, on a plot of land to the south of Ramlet el Bayda, being illegally developed by Wissam Ali Achour through his real estate company, Achour Holding SAL. Of the entire shoreline of the capital, Ramlet el Bayda and Dalieh remain the last two open access spaces frequented by the poorer classes of Beirut, the rest of which has been illegally privatized and fenced off from the public. Anger at this project is not created in a vacuum, but is in reaction to the context of decreasing green and public spaces in Beirut, lack of basic services such as electricity and water, as well as an ongoing waste management crisis.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ramlet el Bayda, Lebanon
Country:Lebanon
Location of conflict:Beirut
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Land
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Eden Bay Resort, being developed by Achour Development, consists of 110 chalets and 53 cabins, as advertised on the company website. The plots on which development is ongoing are numbered 3689, 3690, 3691, and 3692 on the Southern end of Ramlet el Bayda. These four plots, similar to the rest of the coast of Beirut, were historically owned by various Beiruti families, but the beach was always publically used. It was protected by Article 2 of Order 144 established in 1925 during the French mandate, which declares that the beach, defined as the farthest high-water point on the beach, is public property. The public nature of the space is evident in the urban master plan established by the French in the late 1940s, where zoning codes designated the area between the road and the sea as public and prohibited any construction that would interfere with the continuity of the Beirut coast. In 1949, the big sandy plot which was the sandy beach of Ramlet el Bayda, designated as plot 2230, was partitioned in 54 parts, and the four plots being currently developed were eventually purchased by Eden Rock in the 70s, where the Agha family holds the majority of shares. The area between the newly constructed public road at the time and the sea, although privately owned, was classified as “non-aedificandi”, meaning construction on it is prohibited, except for temporary structures with a very low exploitation factor, making it impossible to develop a profitable project on the site. Records show that Wissam Achour started purchasing plots on Ramlet el Bayda starting 2011. [3]

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Project area:0.5188
Level of Investment:Unclear
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:Unclear
Start of the conflict:10/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Achour Development from Lebanon
Relevant government actors:The Governor and Municipality of Beirut
Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Public Works and Transport
Directorate General of Urban Planning (DGU)
Council of Development and Reconstruction (CDR)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:NAHNOO: http://www.nahnoo.org
Greenline: http://greenline.me.uk
Social Justice and the City program at IFI: https://www.aub.edu.lb/ifi/programs/social_justice/Pages/sj_city.aspx
Beirut Madinati: http://beirutmadinati.com/about-beirut-madinati/?lang=en
Beirut Madinati:http://beirutmadinati.com/?lang=en
We Want Accountability: https://www.facebook.com/BadnaNhaseb/?fref=ts
Civil Campaign to Protect Dalieh: http://dalieh.org
Citizens Within A State: https://www.facebook.com/mmfidawla/
Legal Agenda: http://www.legal-agenda.com
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of public access
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:Recognize the right to access public spaces, including seashore
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Some activists consider the campaign successful so far, while others disagree. There seems to be an agreement that it has succeeded in driving the subject forward and increasing knowledge among citizens that public spaces are shrinking in Beirut. However, the campaign is not large enough yet, and not enough people have been mobilised. The issue is very complicated and activists are struggling to frame it in a simple way to be able to mobilise more people. Most activists agree that they can only claim they have been successful if they manage to stop the project.
Sources and Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] How developers are positioning themselves along Beirut’s western waterfront
[click to view]

Pollution on Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Minister of Public Works and Transport promises that Ramlet el Bayda will remain public
[click to view]

Article detailing the violations on Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Greenline's response to the Governor of Beirut
[click to view]

Beirut Begins Destroying the City’s Last Public Beach
[click to view]

Response of the civil coalition of NGOs to the governor of Beirut
[click to view]

Important article detailing the violations that led to privatization and building permits on Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Theft of coastal sands from Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Excavators destroy the stairway leading to the beach
[click to view]

An article critiquing civil society
[click to view]

Beirut Report: Beirut’s stolen coast and the growing fight to get it back
[click to view]

The Governor of Beirut protects private property over public interest
[click to view]

Plans of the project by Achour Development
[click to view]

[1] Officials rule out the closure of Ramlet el Bayda Public Beach
[click to view]

[2] Dr Mona Fawaz on the inconsistencies of the case of Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Ali Darwich of Greenline on the criminalization of activists
[click to view]

Report on the earlier protests on Ramlet el Bayda through a campaign entitled الشط للسباحة مش للاستباحة
[click to view]

Eden Rock Project is launched, with the full support of the Ministry of Tourism
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Picnic day organized by NAHNOO on Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Music and bonfire at Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Video by Beirut Marinate showing the violations of the project
[click to view]

Architect Mona Hallak on Zone 10 in Beirut
[click to view]

Video by NAHNOO showing how most of Beirut's coast became privatized
[click to view]

Video by the Legal Agenda on the Destruction of the Lebanese coast and theft of public property
[click to view]

Other documents

Map showing plot 2230 before partition
[click to view]

Widely circulated photo showing the start of construction at Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Map from 1956 showing the plot 3689 was under the sea
[click to view]

The Governor of Beirut orders stopping the project and allows it to continue a few months after
[click to view]

GDU forbids construction on plot 3689
[click to view]

Recent map of Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

A banner from the most recent protest on Ramlet el Bayda
[click to view]

Picture from the construction site
[click to view]

Picture from the construction site
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A picture from earlier protests
[click to view]

[click to view]

Protestors are met with riot police on the public road
[click to view]

Riot police by the river of sewage
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Catherine Moughalian, The Asfari Institute, [email protected]
Last update05/12/2016
Comments
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