First Published: 2017-05-19

Lebanese activists seek to save Beirut heritage from neglect
Beirut Watch Day aims to attract attention of members of public and authorities to protect Honein Palace, Dalieh al-Raoucheh.
Middle East Online

Dalieh al-Raoucheh is a rocky headland by the Mediterranean Sea

BEIRUT - Lebanese activists have launched a special day to raise awareness about Beirut's cultural and natural heritage, hoping to save it from neglect and frenzied development.

Beirut Watch Day, which started on Thursday and is to run for four days, aims to attract the attention of members of the public and the authorities to protect two sites.

Both the Honein Palace, an example of Ottoman architecture from the 19th century, and Dalieh al-Raoucheh, a rocky headland by the Mediterranean Sea, are listed as endangered by the World Monument Fund (WMF).

The New York-based watchdog placed the sites on its list last year, much to the delight of Lebanese activists.

"The Honein Palace is classified as a historical building, but today it lies abandoned," said Antoine Atallah, deputy head of non-governmental organisation Save Beirut Heritage.

"We want to tell the public about it to push its owners to look after it," he said.

As part of Beirut Watch Day, a market will be held on Saturday in front of the palace, as people cannot visit it, and tours will be offered of the surrounding neighbourhood of Zokak al-Blat.

Sarah Lily Yassine, a member of a campaign to save Dalieh al-Raoucheh, said projects were under development to build hotels and other touristic venues on the iconic outcrop.

"Some parts of it may be privately owned, but according to the 1954 urbanisation plan, nothing should be built there," she said.

She called on the authorities "not to issue a single construction permit for the area".

On Sunday, fisherman from the area will offer boat rides to members of the public as part of activities to encourage Beirut residents to join the fight to save the site.

Activists and those living in the capital have long lamented the rampant pace of new development, at the expense of the city's existing architecture including elegant Lebanese villas.

Despite an economic downturn caused in part by the conflict in neighbouring Syria, a construction boom that began at the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war shows little sign of slowing.

In 2010, the culture ministry said just 400 old mansions and buildings were left in the capital, from more than 1,200 inventoried in 1995.

 

Pence pledges US embassy move by end of 2019 on Jerusalem trip

Turkey shells Kurdish targets in northern Syria

Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 bln in Yemen aid

Saudi calls for cooperation between OPEC, non-OPEC countries

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer

Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

Russia invites Kurds to join Syria peace process

Closer look at pro-Ankara rebels amassing around Afrin

Pence set for Palestinian snub

Abbas to ask EU to recognise Palestinian state

Mattis: Turkey gave US advance warning on Syria operation

Yemen releases budget for first time in three years

France presses Turkey to end offensive against Kurds

The changing faces of al-Qaeda in Syria

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Sudan clamps down on journalists covering bread protests

Tribal feuds spread fear in Iraq's Basra

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked