There are some mistakes that cannot be easily corrected,
and others not corrected at all.
When Lebanon first became independent, several decrees
were published concerning the disposal of plots of
land, particularly in the urban areas. Here is a fine
example: you have a “Building” area where one is allowed
to build and where the price of a square meter reaches
up to six or eight thousand US dollars. Alongside
this, one finds a “Non-building” area where land has
no value at all. Is this the result of ignorance,
of scheming, or of corruption? One can only wonder.
Some of the most beautiful fertile land, ideal for
agriculture, has been transformed into concrete slabs.
There should have been a decree protecting good farmland,
where all building would have been illegal and strictly
forbidden. In this way people, like their forebears,
could have continued to live in grottoes, in the valleys,
and on the rocky terrain. Once upon a time Lebanon
produced cereal crops amply sufficient to feed its
own population, which is no longer the case.
The consequences of those misguided decrees have been
catastrophic. There are no more beaches open to the
general public, no green spaces around the towns.
Measures should have been taken to safeguard the coastline,
the public beaches, and the environment.
Just south of Beirut there stretches one of the most
beautiful beaches imaginable, sandy and a pleasure
to walk and to lie on. But all the beaches have been
invaded by bathing lidos and by buildings. Non-governmental
organizations such as the Greens and public-spirited
volunteers are coming out in demonstrations to defend
the above-mentioned public beach a mile long, stretching
as far as Ouzai.
This beach has seen events of historic importance.
On April 10th, 1973, an Israeli commando came to assassinate
Palestinian leaders and left by passing through Ramlet
el-Baydat. On June 16th, 1976, the United States Ambassador
Meloy was found lying dead on this beach. In 1983
a terrorist group bombarded the French barracks not
Ramlet el-Bayda is an iconic picture of Beirut, recalling
the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, having in
its background, parallel to the sea, the town with
its residential villas and blocks of luxury apartments.
There was a time when Beirut families would spend
the summer at Ramlet el-Bayda. Each family would put
up a tent of canvas or straw. People enjoyed themselves
during the two or three months of summer. Up to the
present the sea front has remained public land thanks
to a municipal decree of 1983. However, now building
estate companies are trying to lay their hands on
this area and to transform it for their own use.
To bathe at Ramlet el-Bayda with its pure water, its
mild breezes and its warm sand is a pleasure given
by the Creator. A wonderful beach like no other! If
it goes, where will the people of Beirut be able to
go in order to bathe in the sea? From Dbayyeh to Ouzai
their coast has been taken away from them. During
this third millennium marine sports and pleasures
will be reserved for the super-rich if we do not rise
up to save Ramlet el-Bayda and all the other beaches
of Lebanon in a wave of national patriotic duty.
Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer
el Bayda - Beirut beach:
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