Ramlet el Bayda is Beirut's last public beach.
Our story begins in 2012, when ownership of Ramlet al Bayda was the controversial topic of headlines. Developers began efforts to transform the public space into a private upscale resort. Since then, a war has been brewing between activists and developers.
It's very important to mention that activists have the law on their side:
"Article 2 of Order 144 stipulates that the seashore until the farthest area reached by the waves during winter as well as sand and rocky shores are considered public property."
But, due to loopholes and decree changes, Achour Development has taken it upon itself to move forward with transforming the public beach into a private resort.
Protests have already taken place, and many Lebanese activists have expressed their anger on social media.
"Excavation phase completed"
A video of the excavation
As a result, Beirut is officially a coastal city without a shore. And really, there's a lot more than that at stake.
It's part of the city's historical fabric
Ramlet el Bayda has been a constant in Lebanese people's lives. Ever flourishing, and always belonging to the people.
It's been through a lot
After 10,000 tonnes of heavy-fuel oil leaked into the sea because of Israeli airstrikes in 2006, the public beach was stained by the black oil.
Xavier Kreme, A French oil-spill expert with CEDRE said it best: "People who live off the sea will remember this pollution all their lives. It will stain their memory forever."
Many years were spent cleaning the beach and recruiting oil experts to clean up the sea. After all that, it was our beach again.
Taking the beach away from us will be another imprint on our memories.
But the beach has also borne witness to our most festive days
Job's Wednesday (Orba’at Ayoub) was a religious tradition held on the last Wednesday of April every year at Ramlet Al Bayda.
It's a festival that was held for decades, with many different families picnicking on the beach in the Prophet Job's honor.
The people who participate aren't just losing a beach, they're losing a long-honored heritage.
Ramlet el Bayda lights up the sky with its Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival is held every year in the summer, and lights the sky with hope, leaving many feeling happy and optimistic, something we truly need.
It's held by Deeds, a Lebanese platform that aims to enhance communication between NGOs and the community. Every year, many NGOs are supported through the festival.
This fun and environmentally-friendly festival will now be gone. The donations made during this event will be gone.
Lebanon's Water Festival
Recently, Lebanon's Water Festival held a stand up paddle-boarding race in Ramlet el Bayda. The race launched from the Ramlet el Bayda sea. The contestants had to paddle all the way to Raouche (Pigeon Rocks) and then return to the beach.
The winner, Ahmad Farhat, said, "It’s great to have an organization like the Lebanon Water Festival to push forward sports like stand up paddle-boarding."
How can we keep pushing forward these kind of activities in Beirut without a public beach?
The beach belongs to everyone and no one
The most important feature of Ramlet el Bayda is that it belonged to everyone. It was a piece of land that was owned by no one and everyone simultaneously.
Imagine the stories that the waves could tell by crashing on the rocks. Remember the child-like wonder you felt, having once screamed at the water inching closer to you... Your heart swelling up in your chest, knowing the same could happen to your children one day.