When we started working on the ``Revisiting Dalieh`` competition about a year ago, our goal was to involve the largest number of people in shaping visions for the location of Dalieh of Raouche, as a starting point for a public debate about the common spaces in the city. We wanted to present alternative visions to the current practices along the Lebanese coast, serving as models or pilots for the design, management, and sustainability of similar spaces. We also wanted to raise public awareness about the importance of the environment, and the respect for nature and its components as they are, as a fundamental right, not to be truncated. On the other hand, we wanted to clarify, and share the future possibilities of Dalieh as a starting point for a debate with officials and the government.
Indeed, the ``Revisiting Dalieh`` competition raised several challenges: environmental, functional, and institutional. These challenges invited us to question the prevailing land management practices in Lebanon, and consider ways to safeguard our environment, and protect our common spaces, and human rights. The competition also raised a fundamental question: How can we stop these spaces from falling in the hands of private investors, and how can we ensure the sustainability of these spaces in the public domain for the benefit of all citizens?
Today, after we have received the proposals, we would like to open a lively and productive debate about Dalieh in particular, and public spaces in general.
On more than one occasion and through more than one message, we have invited all to take part in this debate, starting with the governor, the municipality of Beirut, and the Higher Council of Urban Planning. In fact, this was the Civil Campaign’s main request since its inception: to open a lively and serious debate sponsored by officials with the participation of everyone, so that everyone`s diverse interests and concerns are taken into account, and not just the interests of a single party and their perspective, to the detriment of the perspectives and interests of all the others.
The Civil Campaign calls now particularly on the Council of Ministers and the Higher Council of Urban Planning to take part in this debate, which concerns the future of our city and the right of its citizens; moreover, we demand from them not to approve any private project for Dalieh.
We know that, while we are striving to save Dalieh through a transparent and participatory process, landowners are lobbying through the Council of Ministers to build a private resort, going beyond the possibilities of exploitation of this land, which will require an exceptional decree. We know that this project requires planning and a new vision for this coastal zone. Instead of master plans for Dalieh, we seek to prevent any form of construction on one part, and only allow construction within a specific exploitation factor (fifteen percent surface exploitation, twenty percent total) on the other part. The project’s owners are suggesting an exploitation factor of sixty percent surface exploitation, and one hundred percent total, to build shopping malls, private luxury residencies, hotels, a marina and parking areas.
To us and to all the citizens of Beirut, this scenario embodies and explains how savage construction was possible all over the Lebanese coast. The rule became the violation of master plans before these are replaced by laws that are in reality only tools benefiting a few investors’ power, and dominance over the city`s population, and their relation with the natural heritage of their city, with all that this link allows in terms of social and cultural cohesion to multiple categories of the population.
Since the beginning, the Civil Campaign united to maintain the possibilities of public life in Beirut, and to protect the waterfront of the city as a common space, and as an area of social diversity and natural habitat. The need for participatory tools devoted to decision-making relating to our everyday spaces in Beirut is becoming crucial, and more than urgent. Therefore we are ending this message with a call to all the citizens of Beirut and those who love it. Stand by our side in order to:
- Demand from the Higher Council for Urban Planning not to approve any private project for Dalieh.
- Demand from the Council of Ministers not to approve any exceptional decree giving the project owners the possibility of a different investment to the one permitted in the current guide for master planning in Beirut.
- Demand from the municipality of Beirut, its governor, and its civil society to assume their responsibilities to protect Dalieh by proposing alternative plans for the site based on the results of the competition.
- Express our belonging, all of us, to the common spaces of the city and claim our rights to protect and save our environment and the natural heritage of our city.
Long live Beirut—a city defined by its public and shared spaces, its cultural and natural heritage, a city that is open to all its population, and its lovers.
The Civil Campaign to protect the Dalieh of Raouche