A Dubai Disneyland Coming To Lebanon? Plans Call For Artificial "Cedar Island" Mega Development Deal

cedar-island-lebanon
(Illustration of Cedar Island, a new artificial island project proposed for off the coast of Lebanon).

Environmentalists in Beirut’s American University are calling it a disaster:  A Lebanese company is looking to build mega artificial islands like Palm Island in Dubai, but in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lebanon.

They are calling it Cedar Island, modeled after the Lebanese Cedar, the country’s national symbol. And Panasonic Corporation, and Chinese partners and Arab investors are already on board.

This January, Noor International Holding from Beirut, applied for a legal license at Lebanon’s development authority, the IDAL, to build what it’s calling “a luxurious residential, commercial, and touristic project.”

cedar-island lebanon artificial pictureAn artificial island (illustrated above and to the left)  is planned for the Mediteranean coast on a 3.3 square km area on the Lebanese coast. Professors at the American University in Beirut say it will be an environmental and urban disaster.

A seminar took place last month to establish sound scientific arguments in order to raise awareness among people and policy makers to stop the process. Here’s a YouTube video on the discussion (in Arabic).

Environmental tragedy or the perfect way to expand land and run away from all the pollution on problems back on the mainland? You decide. I guess it’s like building an alternate reality, once you see the one you have isn’t quite what you expected.

Bloggers in Lebanon, the Inner Circle blog reports are divided:

Meanwhile, among Lebanese blogs and on Facebook, the subject is dividing people sharply. Blogger Qika Nabki wrote, “Am I the last person to hear about this? Say it isn’t so!” The online community also expressed the view that this island is so similar to the Palm Island in Dubai that it will move Lebanon closer to being what one Facebook user called “another Dubai-Disney-land.”

“Well sure,” said Dr. Saleh when questioned about the security aspect, “if there is a war, we’ll stop.” However, he explained, he unveiled the plans only as US President Barack Obama took office, because, “he will help the Arab world,” and conflict is unlikely in the future.

I do know however, that Caesaria, the ancient port city built by the Romans on Israel’s Mediterranean Coast is believed to have been destroyed by an ancient tsunami. Builders take note.

More on The Cedar Island:
(Via a company press release slighted edited for brevity. Notice all the grandiose hyperbole. And what are the environmental assessments mentioned?)

This island will include service, entertaining, touristic, commercial and residential compounds characterized by a great luxuriousness that is in harmony with the modern lifestyle, in addition to the availability of the best accommodations.

Moreover, the company mentioned that it will be the main developer of the project and that it has started its calls with many Lebanese investors residing in Lebanon and abroad, with Arabs and other investment parties.

The chairman of the board of directors in “Noor International Holding,” Dr. Muhammad Saleh, declared that the project aims at reinforcing Lebanon’s position as a pioneer touristic and investment figure at the international level and at attracting the visitors and the investors from all over the world to visit Lebanon.

Furthermore, Dr. Saleh (the inventor of the project’s idea) clarified that the company’s board of directors visited some political leaders in order to get “the blessing” regarding the idea of the project’s presentation and he confirmed that the idea was welcomed.

Saleh expressed his hope for getting the official approval related to the project, in addition to the issuance of the necessary authorizations as soon as possible due to the serious interest of the investors in joining the giant “Cedar Island” project.

Dr. Saleh added that the project will provide 50,000 job opportunities, clarifying that the company’s strategy is to form alliances with the most important companies in this field in order to provide the best services in the project. In addition, he mentioned that more details will be announced about “Lebanon’s Cedar Island” after getting the necessary approvals.

cedar-lebanon-island-site lebanon photo
(The proposed area off the coast of Lebanon where Cedar Island could be built.)

According to Dr. Saleh, it is expected that the accomplishment of this project will take 3 to 4 years after getting the specific authorizations and decrees from the competent Lebanese parties.

Dr. Saleh confirmed that the project, in its plans, takes into consideration the protection of the maritime environment without causing any damages to it due to the fact that some of the Island’s parts will be the cedar’s branches floating above the sea surface.

He also mentioned that many investment companies showed their interest in investing in this project, among them are the Lebanese-Saudi Affairs Council, the Saudi based company Al Hokair Group for Tourism and Development, Qatarian and Bahraini companies and El Behbehani Group in Kuwait.

The company revealed that first negotiations are taking place with several companies in order to present the consultative services and among these companies is the American company B.A. specialized in the water projects worldwide.

In order to carry out construction works related to the project, the company made contracts with the biggest universal companies such as Panasonic Corporation, the universal Chinese Hawawi Corporation, the British Homes Express Corporation specialized in the real estate marketing and Navy International Group specialized in controlling the environmental pollution.

How will will this project impact the already in-peril Mediterranean Sea? How are green groups fighting this project? What do international authorities have to say?

Mixed with the current political problems in Lebanon (with the extremely tolerant liberal society becoming overpowered by a toxic radical one)  it will be interesting to see what sides different groups take.

Will the radical ones be in favor or against Cedars Island? With pictures of “white kids” looking like they are from Arkansas in their brochure, and painting a picture of a modern, western society including country clubs and discos, I can’t imagine the growing intolerant Islamist radicals in Lebanon would tolerate such freedoms that Cedar Island promises. Maybe it will be a safe haven from the less radical to escape to. Wind catchers and solar energy projects are expected to be part of the deal.

But your thoughts on the matter are most welcome.  

::Cedars Island

Update: The Inner Circle says the plan is being shelved until the elections are over in June.

24 thoughts on “A Dubai Disneyland Coming To Lebanon? Plans Call For Artificial "Cedar Island" Mega Development Deal

  1. Karim El-houssami

    Studying geography, I understand that there are many advantages and disadvantages to this Island. This Island does present a section of new developments which would be much more modern than certain crumbling parts in Beirut, however what this means is it would be better to demolish those buildings and replace them and that would probably cause less collateral damage. Secondly what this Island needs in an airport with destination that are not available in the RHIA airport in south Beirut. Thirdly, building this island presents many challenges even if it is a floating Island which is less likely to kill life on the Mediterranean sea bed but will still eventually do so by blocking the sunlight reaching certain parts. which may kill it anyway but also, political problems and the potential for war and violence can easily slow down or even stop construction of this island. I’m not against this construction, but I believe the the with the solutions it’s supposed to solve; There are better alternatives. PLease reply immediately if you disagree.

    Reply
  2. Bachir

    Awesome project, Lebanon is already the most beautiful country in the world, and if this is happen will be great, in my opinion we need peace first, and then lest build up Lebanon and clean up our mess
    Cheers guys and wishing you the best.

    Reply
  3. Elias

    Listen if it won’t harm the ocean ecosystem it is not a big deal. Job opportunities are good for young people, maybe we can keep some of our lebanese children in their country

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Lebanon’s ‘Weak State’ Supports Construction Boom, Environmental Bust | Green Prophet

  5. Assaad

    If this happen Lebanon will have small new Cyprus and basically Cyprus will be ***
    also i do believe the the Lebanese pound will even be stronger.
    I LOVE YOU LEBANON AND I WISH YOU ALL MY BEST.

    Reply
  6. msc

    Wishin all the best. why not turn this into a touristic attraction..:).. all the best wishing that there would be enviromental projects in the mountains too.. why being so negative about a project. you complain no job opportunites and wishing a change in lebanon. and when there is a change. Night clubs are evrywhere in lebanon from the south to the north. thats is not something to make a big issue for. Dont involve polical views in the fact of a change to beauty in lebanon. GREEN PROPHET all the best, wish to have pictures of the type of villas that will be built, i would appreciate..

    Reply
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  8. Lebanese

    “I can’t imagine the growing intolerant Islamist radicals in Lebanon would tolerate such freedoms that Cedar Island promises.”Are you stupid or what? In the heart of those “Islamist radicals” (you ofcourse mean the Hezbollah) you will find night clubs. Everywhere in Lebanon you have them. In Tyre, (90% supportive to Hezbollah) you have in only one street on the beach more than 10 nightclubs. You want to go to the prostitutes, we already have them in Jounieh. Unfortunate that you have to add such nonsense to a good article. I prefer you delete those sentences, because it really lower the quality of this article. Lebanon is a modern and liberal country. It is not that the Cedar Island will suddenly change everything. We discovered the enjoying of life centuries before the west did. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. lebanesee

    “I can’t imagine the growing intolerant Islamist radicals in Lebanon would tolerate such freedoms that Cedar Island promises.”Are you stupid or what? In the heart of those “Islamist radicals” (you ofcourse mean the Hezbollah) you will find night clubs. Everywhere in Lebanon you have them. In Tyre, (90% supportive to Hezbollah) you have in only one street on the beach more than 10 nightclubs. You want to go to the prostitutes, we already have them in Jounieh. Unfortunate that you have to add such nonsense to a good article. I prefer you delete those sentences, because it really lower the quality of this article. Lebanon is a modern and liberal country. It is not that the Cedar Island will suddenly change everything. We discovered the enjoying of life centuries before the west did. Thank you.

    Reply
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  12. Linda

    Terrible idea. It will destroy the ocean ecosystem. The people who want to do this should be ashamed. Put on a snorkle and mask and look at whatyou will destroy. Fools !!!

    Reply
  13. Joseph Haddad

    This is a horrible idea.

    I’ve been reading about this on other websites and I attempted to understand the AUB lecture against this proposal (although my understanding was very limited). It seems to me that yes, although this proposal has had it’s positives in Dubai, one must keep in mind that what works in Dubai does not necessarily work in Lebanon. To compare Lebanon to Dubai is an offensive mistake.

    Certainly this proposal has logical claims as to why it must not exist. Yes, it will impact the environment, yes, it gives Israel another target (undoubtedly, Israel enjoys aiming at the prizes of the Lebanese, we don’t need to serve them this potential-massacre on a silver platter – imagine this proposal war torn with artificial pieces clogging our sea).

    Lebanon does not need “artificial” means to attract tourism. Lebanon in and of itself is sufficient. I’m pleased to say that Lebanese attractions stand as unique natural marvels – Jeita Grotto, the Cedar Reserves, the breath-taking Mountains, the welcoming Mediterranean coast – to name a few.

    To introduce this proposal is intrinsically insulting. Beirut is coined as the “Paris of the Middle East” and many Arab nations have envied it for its’ perseverance, resistance, flourishing commerce, intellectual prosperity, and most importantly, its ability to rebuild itself, time after time, war after war, from the foundation, to the top while always maintaining its world-renowned status. Beirut is a city of history, culture, and unprofound beauty. Dubai may have its “artificial” beauty, but this relatively recent city certainly lacks culture and history. For Beirut to get its inspiration from Dubai is ridiculous.

    People don’t travel to Lebanon hoping to see Dubai, they go to Lebanon to see Lebanon. There’s no need to bring Dubai in the greater scheme of life.

    Reply
  14. NIX

    You obviously have never been to Lebanon and experienced the thriving clubbing and nightlife scene that would make Western societies blush. Lebanese are very well known for this, I myself was shocked when I first moved here! Sad really, you should visit. As for this “island” I’m pretty much against it. Lebanon is beautiful because it’s natural and this attempt to ruin the natural environment and the lovely coastline is a shame.

    Reply
  15. Lina

    Nooooo! Why do this? Nature is much more beautiful in itself. Try to restore and protect the natural environments instead!

    Reply
  16. Chadia

    It’s just horrible. The damage to the environment cannot be justified in dollars. Not to mention the aesthetic aspect. Disgusting!! It must not be allowed. Why don’t they come up with something more constructive instead? How about they build a green resort in the mountains and plant some trees back in Lebanon instead?

    Reply
  17. Jad Aoun

    “and painting a picture of a modern, western society including country clubs and discos”

    Ah, those already exist. So basically this project brings nothing new, just an ugly piece of real estate hanging off the cost like a wart.

    Reply
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