Al Kumma Project tourism project, Lebanon

The impact of eco-tourism on the environment and on rural communities has been a debate among conservationists and rural development practitioners. The Kumma Project has without a doubt grabbed the attention of many and created a huge debate among locals.


Description

The impact of eco-tourism on the environment and on rural communities has been a debate among conservationists and rural development practitioners. Realis Development S.A.L is about to implement a Touristic Project located in Qurnat al-Sawda,  North of Lebanon. The location was chosen as it is an area elevated at 3,000 meters above sea level with a view that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. It is 27 km away from Tripoli and 72 Km away from Rafic Hariri International Airport.  Qurnat al-Sawda was chosen as it is believed to be a location that can be utilized for all sorts of touristic activities or plans that range from Ski Resort, Hotels, Villa's, and all kind of Outdoor activities (Realis Development SAL, 2017). This project without a doubt has generated different reactions among Lebanese inhabitants as the location is one of the few intact virgin lands in Lebanon.  Based on extensive research pertaining to the Al-Kumma project, the following positive/negative claims were deduced.  According to Patrick Ghanem, CEO and partner of Realis Development (Daily Star, 2017):  - The project is eco-friendly as it will use solar energy, utilize wood and imported material and they will follow American and European standards.  - Project is not on in Qornert Esawda rather, it is on Jabbal 40  - The project will put Lebanon’s nature back on the map through the attraction of foreigners.  - The Project will be the highest resort in the MEA  On the other hand, one cannot deny the negative outcomes that might generate from this project and, will range from: - The destruction of the Hiking Trail, an attraction for tourists and nature lovers.  - The destruction one of nature’s last sanctuaries, especially that green spaces are continuously diminishing.  - The possibility of decreasing the number of cedar trees, increase deforestation and disturbing the ecosystem.  - The possibility of threatening water resources since the mountain nourishes rivers to the east such as the Orontes and to the west such as Qadisha.

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Basic Data
NameAl Kumma Project tourism project, Lebanon
CountryLebanon
ProvinceNorth Governorate
SiteQurnat al-Sawdā
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAccording to the article in HospitalityNews Middle East [1],

"The project’s vision plan involves a five-star boutique hotel with 50 rooms, a club house, a wellness center and a spa, 700 chalets including 60 villas, up for sale and rent, in addition to commercial areas.



The spa will be managed by an international operator, of the likes of Evian. “Our aim is to turn the project into a true retreat and escapade, like Baden Baden in Germany. The experience we will offer is also similar to the one brought by Explora, the renowned travel and destination creators in South America,” Ghanem said.



The development will be established on a 500,000 square meters land plot, and will have a 250,000 m2 built-up area, out of which 50,000 m2 will be dedicated to the hotel and the spa. A Canadian master planner is handling the project design.



It will be delivered over six phases, extending over 15 years. The first phase, encompassing the infrastructure, the hotel and the spa, in addition to a couple of villas and chalets prototypes, will be delivered four years following the kick-off of the works, expected in coming summer.



Investment in the first phase is USD 100 million. According to Ghanem, they are currently finalizing land parceling. The total project worth will reach USD 500 million throughout its development stages. 30 to 40 percent of the project will be up to equity funding."
Level of Investment (in USD)500,000,000
Type of PopulationUnknown
Potential Affected Population193,000 (including Miniyeh-Danniyeh District and Bsharri Caza)
Start Date01/01/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesREALIS DEVELOPMENT SAL from Lebanon - Construction Company
G One Group from Lebanon - The project is owned by G One Group, owned by the Ghanem family. Realis Development, a subsidiary of G One Group is in charge of the project’s management and financial engineering. It is headed by Patrick Ghanem
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Tourism

Ministry of Environment
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersA Petition was launched by Cheyenne Yammine on Change.org in order protest against this project.

Link: https://www.change.org/p/kornet-al-sawda-saving-the-highest-mountain-in-the-middle-east
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Genetic contamination, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
Development of AlternativesIn the Arab region, ecotourism is considered to have a high potential in supporting a green economy since it can play a significant role in generating direct revenues, enhancing sustainable production and increasing the sale of local products. Ecotourism has a potential power in poverty alleviation in rural areas in several countries, including Lebanon (ESCWA 2013). Therefore, ecotourism can play an important role in Jabal Makmel even without the construction of a resort. Ecotouristic activities can be developed in a way to benefit rural communities without the introduction of roads and constructions that have been revealed to highly threaten biodiversity. Many nature lovers visit this place for the sake of spending time in the wild. Utilizing the argument of eco-tourism alone to justify the construction of a resort in a location that has already attracted the attention of many visitors due to its breathtaking landscape and serenity is not valid. This is why a movement has taken against the implementation of the project as a whole, and protests were claimed on many websites including: THE 961. Engaging Lebanese Content (https://www.the961.com/lebanons-highest-peak-qornet-el-sawda-will-be-turned-into-a-resort/); A Separate State of Mind (https://stateofmind13.com/2017/01/16/qornet-el-sawda-lebanons-highest-peak-to-be-ruined-turned-into-a-resort/); and AUB Outlook (http://outlookaub.com/2017/01/31/al-kumma-project-publics-uproar-2/). This movement was further translated through an online petition that gathered to date 10,697 supporters and, was delivered to 27 decision makers including Ecodit, Association for Forest Development and Conservation and Environment Protection Committee etc.. This movement wants to stop the project from taking place.

This petition was launched by Cheyenne Yammine on Change.org.

Link: https://www.change.org/p/kornet-al-sawda-saving-the-highest-mountain-in-the-middle-east
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Even though this petition has gathered to date 10,697 supporters but, we cannot but notice the decrease in enthusiasm against this project and, the lack of any actions taking place.
Sources and Materials
References

Abi-Said, M.R. and Z.S. Amr (2012) Camera trapping in assessing diversity of mammals in Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve, Lebanon, Vertebrate Zoology, 62, 1, 145-152.

ESCWA, 2013, Green economy initiatives success stories and lessons learned in the Arab countries.
[click to view]

Ministry of Agriculture and UNEP (1996) Biological Diversity of Lebanon: Comprehensive Report. Republic of Lebanon.

USAID/Lebanon and Ecodit (2002). Conservation of Forests and Biological Diversity in Lebanon. FAA 118 / 119 Report.

Radford, E.A., Catullo, G. and Montmollin, B. de. (eds.) (2011). Important Plant Areas of the south and east Mediterranean region: priority sites for conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Malaga, Spain. Gland, Switzerland and Malaga, Spain: IUCN. VIII + 108 pp.

Sattout, E. and H. Zahreddine (2013) Native trees of Lebanon and neighboring countries: A Guidebook for Professionals and Amateurs, Louaize: Notre Dame University.

Links

Realis Development S.A.L
[click to view]

The Daily Star
[click to view]

The 961
[click to view]

Kornet Al Sawda : Saving the highest mountain peak in the Middle East
[click to view]

[1] HospitalityNews Middle East
[click to view]

Other Documents

Source: http://www.hospitalitynewsmag.com/en/event/alkumma
[click to view]

Other CommentsWe would like to thank Dr. Jad Abou-Arraj and Dr. Mounir Abi-Said for taking the time to meet with us and discuss the outcomes of this project.
Meta Information
ContributorNour El Korek and Sarah Karam, on behalf of KariaNet iniatiative at the American University of Beirut.
Last update28/09/2017
Comments