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Lebanon: Cedar Island – A Controversial Construction

From disbelief to bewilderment to outweighing its environment disaster against its economic impact, the proposed Cedar Island project is taking the Lebanese blogosphere by storm.

The blueprint for the artificial island, covering an area of 3,311,731,60 square meters, in the shape of the Cedar Tree, will boast residential, commercial, recreational, and touristic facilities in the Lebanese part of the Mediterranean Sea, once completed.

The idea for this man-made island has created a strong divide between the Lebanese, whose reactions are voiced in various blog posts and different Facebook groups. Most of the blog posts oppose the project. Those who support, especially the Facebook group, see it as an opportunity to eternalize the Lebanese emblem – the Cedar – in addition to creating jobs, money and other economical benefits to their country. Those who oppose it, both on Facebook and in the blogosphere, see that it will destroy the livelihood of fishermen, the environment and the Lebanese culture among other disadvantages.

Here are some of the reactions of Lebanese bloggers to this project:

Qifa Nabki, in one of his posts, goes out to investigate whether the project is a hoax, because of many considerations which are explained in the post, and found out that the project was real:

The more time one spends on the website of Noor Holding, the firm that is allegedly developing Cedar Island, the more one begins to get the creeping suspicion that this is one of the most brilliant hoaxes pulled off in recent memory.[…]After scratching my head about this for a few minutes, I picked up the phone and called the number listed on the website. The fellow who answered assured me that it was real.

“The crazy cedar tree island is real?”
“Yes, of course.”
“The company is real? The enormous building shaped like a chair, and the Canadian Town near Baghdad airport? These are all happening?”
“Inshallah.”
Truth stranger than fiction?
- UPDATE
I’ve just received heard from my contact in the Tourism Minister’s office that the project is, in fact, real. It was first floated (no pun intended) a few years ago, and is now gathering steam.

In another post, Qifa Nabki almost screams “Stop Cedar Island” and explains that Lebanon should not stoop to being a soul-less tourist trap like other countries because:

Far from demonstrating such gauche sensibilities, we Lebanese have culture, history, and taste. We have cafes, newspapers, intellectuals, universities, people who speak Arabic, service taxis, Sayyed Hasan, Abou l-Abed, and Fairouz. How can we be Dubai? We’re Lebanon!

Lebanos writes [Ar] about the call made by the Naqib (leader) of the Divers Union. The Naqib called on all environmentalist and fishermen to stand against this project. He was quoted as saying that the project will destroy the livelihood of hundreds of fishermen, in addition to destroying the richest marine resources in the Lebanese sea.

Liliane does not see the need to create an artificial land with trees in a country that is endowed with mountains, forests and green areas. She does not believe the claim of the project representatives that it will not destroy the marine life too:

Thank you but NO THANK YOU. We already have trees and green and mountains and a great beach and a great weather and a great location in Lebanon, we do not need to go by imitating Dubai (who originally imitated us in the first place) and create fake things by killing the maritime life.
We still have a little bit of great nature in Lebanon, forests, mountains and a very nice sea. We do not need to fake things.
Dr. Saleh, are you sure this project takes into consideration the protection of the maritime environment? How is that possible? It is going to take up a lot of space in the sea, are you going to send a note to all the fish and turtles and algae and everything to move to a new section in the sea?

Nihil Declaro is “partially amused by all the attention this “project” has received on Facebook.” He links to the Facebook groups that are “for” and those those that are “against”.

Urban Memories calls it the “Island of Dr. Moron” and criticizes the spokesperson of the project who claims that it will not disturb the environment:

I am sure that by now, many Lebanese across the world have seen this image that has been circulating in emails. At first I thought it might be a hoax, but then I got it many times, from different sources… And this mass advertising scares me.
Now pardon my arrogance and maybe my pretense, but with my multiple architectural degrees, and in all modesty, I can sincerely say that I would tend to have thoughts regarding this.
So here’s my educated opinion:
What the F*** do you think you’re doing!
So you’re telling us, that you are going to claim 3.5 M.sq.m of marine land, and not disturb aquatic life? Or the planet? I don’t care how many environmentalists you’re going to hire, but I don’t buy into that… not one bit.

Rami also questions the environmental impact of the project.

The Lebanese Inner Circle wrote a lengthy post about the project. In this post, both the owners’ view and the criticisms are mentioned in addition to some updates on the numbers in Facebook groups that are with and against it:

Noor International Holding is planning on building this massive island covering an area of 127.8 squared miles in the touristic coastal area of Lebanon, the Cedar Island lends itself as a luxurious residential, commercial, and touristic project. Its geographical location along the Lebanese coast allows it to play a vital role in attracting tourists and savvy residents looking for an exotic lifestyle or escaping from the city.
Update (30/01/2009): As you can see from the comments, and the rage over at facebook, many seem to be pleased by the candy colored plan for this massive project, and many seem to be keen on preventing it from happening, if ever the capital for such a project is secured. Till now, facebook’s Cedar Island – Lebanon has 7,345 fans and counting, while those opposing it, hosting a page called No for Cedar Island has 1,848 members.
Criticism has also come from environmentalists, who have raised concerns that building a giant artificial island will affect marine and coastal bird life. Amir Shahab works on research for the project, and counters that they are finding a site for land reclamation, which will “not have a coral reef, we are making sure there will be no bird habitat and no fishermen whose livelihood depends on fish stocks.” It will, in the long run, he said, become an artificial reef environment for fish, and the water treatment facility will prevent stagnation.

Wishing you a happy and fruitful surfing for more news from Lebanon.

  • manso

    ey it will increase our enonomy and we will have a wonderful landmark and by the way its not artificial it a little bit under seawater enter cedarisland.com and u wil find out

  • Steven Robinson

    Oh, Hey! Now there is an idea whose time has come!
    That Cedar Island project?
    http://www.cedarisland.com,... vacation wonderland?
    Every time I think of “Beirut” I think,.. “Mickey and the Gang” and how I want my children and grandchildren to ignore the bombings, wars, terrorists, bloodshed, destruction, societal upheavals, utter destruction, not to mention American Troops who’ve died, along with countless civilians and families, mothers, children, and generations to come who will forever be affected by mayhem and the angel of death that Lebanon brings to mind.

    Hell yes! I wanna go and be a part of the Eco-destructive and utter money-grabbing super-rich abusers of the planet starting with this Med. sea version of Dubai, (expletive deleted) pile of Dung by the sea.

    Kill the wildlife world undersea? Hell just bring in some zebra mussels to build reefs on wreckage from Beirut dumped into the fragile sea and lets build a new reef!

    I think the super-rich should be castrated,.. throw their balls into the sea to feed to the urchins and sharks of the real world as ‘chum’ so the rest of us aren’t turned to ‘Chums’ by these blood sucking planet wrecking asses.

    I’ve had it with super-rich super consumption at the expense of the rest of us and the planet’s health.

    We are stewards of the planet who’s responsibility it is to pass it on to the next generation, along with a body of knowledge to treat it with respect for their children.

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