“Because they want to see the sea, we can’t see the sky anymore” reads the poster. “They” of course refers to the upper class, the only class who can afford to live in Beirut’s ugly towers, and the corrupted, political class, the one selling the city to the highest bidder. It’s usually hard to differentiate them from one another.
Fighting against the privatization of public space is a race against time. Frantic, uncontrolled building of large towers in Beirut is chocking the population, forcing it into retreating to ever smaller spaces. Today, Raouche, Beirut’s cliff-side and among the last remaining public spaces of the capital, is being threatened by ongoing privatization for the sole benefit of the wealthy class. The current battle is focusing on the Al Dalia port (also spelled Daliyeh). As Rania Masri wrote on her blog, Green Resistance:
“Al-Dalia Port, across from the famous pigeon rocks in Raouche, is not the same any more. Some of the fishermen’s kiosks that were built decades ago have been flattened after bulldozers went to work yesterday to remove the rest of their kiosks and houses. Yet most of al-Dalia’s fishermen preferred to remain silent. What Beirut’s notorious contractors failed to do in the courts and through threats and intimidation – that is remove the fishermen from the land which they inherited from their forefathers – money succeeded in doing.”
The civil campaign to protect Raouche’s Al-Dalia is calling for a protest (event) this Sunday the 18th starting 3pm at Al-Dalia, with the slogan “ارفعوا ورشتكم عن روشتنا” – an Arabic play on words; badly translated, it means: “Remove your construction work from our Raouche”. It is also calling for 10,000 signatures on its online petition.
For further reading and information:
- Al Akhbar: Daliyeh and the ongoing struggle for Beirut’s public spaces
- Al Akhbar: Daliyeh, Again and Again
- Green Resistance: Another defeat to Lebanon’s fishermen
- Al Akhbar: Lebanon: A sad farewell to Al-Dalia Port
- Green Resistance: More on protecting public spaces and livelihood (Dalia) in Lebanon
- Beirut Report: The fight for Dalieh
Also, the Lebanese Economic Association‘s short documentary “Beirut, the Space in Between Hope and the Public”