Horsh Beirut is not the only public space that has been hijacked from the residents of Beirut. In the years since the war, most of the sandy stretches along the Mediterranean Sea have been usurped by wealthy developers, who – according to Abir Ghattas – have forgotten that Beirut’s beaches belong to everyone.
These private resorts charge extortionist entrance fees, prohibiting the average resident from enjoying one of the most pleasant summer experiences in the city. And the only beach that is still available to everyone has been off-limits since the war. In an effort to reverse this scenario and take back their beach, Lara Balaa has launched Pink Balloon Saturday, which takes place today, July 28, between 1 and 6pm.
The day of beaching
At the time of writing, we have been unable to reach Lara to discuss the origins and goals of Pink Balloon Saturday, so we hope to do an update in the next few days.
But we thought it was important to get this post out on the day of action, just in case a few of our Lebanese readers happen to pick up on it and decide to join, so we snooped around on the Facebook page to get as much information as possible.
So, what’s the deal? What’s this all about?
Private resort owners such as Solidere, Mosbah El Ahdab, Qalamoun Beach, and Edde Sands among others have made beach-hopping an elitist affair that the general population can ill-afford.
Local media have also reported on several occasions that the criteria for entering these private resorts are unabashedly racist.
One beach left
Fortunately, Ramlet el Bayda is still available to the public, even though many residents of Beirut have avoided the space because of sexual harassment and trash.
“It’s a great initiative. but don’t you think we should call for an event to clean Ramlet el Bayda before we start encouraging people to go there? And since when did the Ministry of Public Work regulate it? That place is a dumpster, too filthy!! I don’t even take my dogs there let alone swim in the water,” one woman commented on the event’s Facebook page.
“Yes of course Marwa, the situation in Ramlet el Bayda is far from being ideal especially with the water pollution situation, but if no one goes there, there will never be a real need to fix it,” the event organizer Lara responded.
“Have you been recently? There is a commendable effort at cleaning the sand and keeping the place in shape.”
Lara is calling on all beach lovers and their friends to descend upon the beach en masse at 1pm today armed with swimsuits, towels, volleyballs, and chess sets. They will also bring balloons. Pink balloons and maybe even other colors as well.
Future passive protests?
“Good idea for the event, but I have a better one,” another commentator wrote.
“Since the first 5-10 meters of all beaches from sea and up in all private resorts are legally public where people can still enter resorts from the side or sea or sometimes even main door, why don’t u [sic] make an event where we go to those private beaches and fill the front (which is public) with all the pink balloons that’ll make people more aware?”
“Sounds great,” wrote Lara. “Let’s discuss this on Saturday, or any other day!”
So, if you’re in Lebanon, go ahead. Grab your bathing suits, join this powerful initiative, and take back the beaches of Beirut.
But (sorry Lara), we don’t love the idea of balloons being wasted in an already trash-filled environment. Isn’t there an earth-friendlier way of making an impact?
Image credit: Pregnant woman with balloons on a beach, Shutterstock