The Dalieh of Raouche, Lebanon

Development frenzy in Beirut has led to illegal privatization and fencing-off of the seashore from the public. Today, development plans threaten Dalieh, a prominent landmark in Beirut and one of the last remaining public spaces along Beirut's shoreline


Amid massive neoliberal development in post-civil war Lebanon, most of Beirut’s shoreline has been privatized and fenced off by upscale resorts that are inaccessible to the majority of Beirut’s citizens. The Dalieh of Raouche remains one of the last stretches of the shoreline that is still open to working class Lebanese and non-Lebanese citizens alike. Postwar privatization, however, has reached the shores of Dalieh, and the site is threatened today by potential development plans.

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Basic Data
NameThe Dalieh of Raouche, Lebanon
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesLand
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Dalieh of Raouche is divided into several plots, which were historically owned by various Beiruti families, such as the Chatila, Baydoun, Itani, Matar, and Mu’awwad families. Although these plots were privately owned, property records that date back to the 1940s indicate that the area was deemed “non aedificandi”, meaning not designated for construction, and Order 144 of 1925 categorizes the seashore as public property, defined as the furthest high-water point on the beach.

Based on cadastral surveys and land registries of the French mandate period, the Lebanese government developed a master plan for Beirut in 1951, which was actually adopted in 1964 with major changes, due to “vested interests in the real estate sector.” [1] Consequently, the coast was subjected to new zoning laws, and was divided into specific plots with individual owners, yet construction on the coast was still prohibited, with different degrees of prohibition depending on the zone. This Master Plan forbids construction in Zone 10 (decree 4810 of 1966), which is inclusive of Dalieh. However, since the 1960s,exceptional laws have been passed to allow building activity in Dalieh leading to the gradual privatization of the space.

For example, decree 169 of 1989 removed state protection from Zone 10, which allowed exploitation of maritime public domain by property owners who had land adjacent to the sea. This decree was passed during the civil war, and was not ratified by the municipality or the DGU, nor was it published publicly, thus preventing citizens from opposing it. In addition, two decrees were issued in 1966. Decree no. 14914 confines the use of plots in zone 10 to sports and leisure activities, and limits construction on this zone to one-floor and an exploitation factor of 10 percent for real estate companies. Meanwhile, decree no. 4810 allows for exploitation of public maritime domain provided that the government approves of the proposed project, and that the project contributes to tourism and the industrial sector. This latter decree also allows that construction of a marina three times the size of the resort plot.

Property registry records show that Dalieh of Raouche was “privatized” in 1995, by real estate companies owned by Hariri. In the same year, law 402 was issued, which enabled “landowners with a plot larger than 20,000 square meters to double their total exploitation factor and quadruple their surface exploitation if a hotel is to be built.” [2] In parallel, decree 7464 was issued again in 1995 allowing “exploitation of the maritime public domain in Zone 10.” [2]

Ironically, however, environment law no. 444 of 2002 declares free and open access to the seashore as a right of every Lebanese citizen.

The Dalieh campaign, through two of its member NGOs (NAHNOO and Greenline), filed a lawsuit against decree 169 of 1989 to the Shura Council, the legislative court in Lebanon.

A map of the Beirut Master Plan, with details about zoning laws along the coast, can be found in the booklet written by architect Abir Saksouk and published by the Dictaphone Group [1].
Level of Investment (in USD)Unclear
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected PopulationUnclear
Start Date13/03/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesAl-Bahr Real Estate
Sakhrat Al-Bahr Real Estate
Sakhret Al Yamama
Relevant government actorsThe Governor and Municipality of Beirut

Ministry of Environment

Ministry of Public Works and Transport

Directorate General of Urban Planning (DGU)

Council of Development and Reconstruction (CDR)

The Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) which falls under the Ministry of Culture
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersThe Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche. The coalition includes NAHNOO, Greenline, Cedars for Care, Public Works, and independent experts. The campaign also has independent supporters such as We Want Accountability (بدنا نحاسب).
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInformal workers
Local ejos
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesThe Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche launched a competition on March 24, 2015, entitled “Revisiting Dalieh,” calling on citizens to submit their alternative visions of Dalieh to protect it as a natural site used openly by the public instead of becoming a private resort. The competition was open to architects, landscape architects, urbanists, planners, and other related environmental design disciplines. The aim of the competition was to provide alternatives to the current trend of privatization along the entire coast of Lebanon, in terms of coming up with environmentally sustainable design alternatives as well as opening up the debate about open-access shared spaces in the face of the market-driven urban geography of Lebanon. The winning projects included in their designs wildlife conservation systems, ecological workshops, a fishing port, market, and eatery, a landscape promenade, diving area, fishermen’s exhibition spaces, urban agriculture spaces, training areas, etc… More details about the three winning projects can be found on the campaign’s website.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.A coalition was formed to defend public spaces with both experts and citizens in it, including those living nearby, which hopes to stay intact and work on other public space issues next. Due to this campaign, Dalieh received a lot of publicity and most people in Beirut have now heard about the issue, and a culture of public space has been developing in Beirut. In addition, the coalition managed to create a dialogue with the authorities, including the relevant ministries and the Governor of Beirut, something that is new in Lebanon. Members also consider it a huge success that the Minister of Environment eventually supported the campaign. And throughout it all, the coalition managed to remain transparent and reveal corruption without even using the names of specific politicians, and so they couldn't be accused of publicly shaming them. Of course, the ultimate victory would be in Dalieh is preserved as a public space, and there is still a lot of work to be done.
Sources and Materials

Booklet published by the Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche
[click to view]

Booklet published by Dictaphone group with details about the zoning laws of Beirut
[click to view]


Ministry of Environment announces decree to protect the coast of Dalieh
[click to view]

Open Letter by the campaign to architect Rem Koolhaas
[click to view]

Dalieh and the ongoing struggle for public spaces
[click to view]

Collection of photos of Dalieh by Beirut Report
[click to view]

News piece about fisherman Ali Itani who got evicted from Dalieh
[click to view]

Fishermen of Dalieh are threatened with eviction
[click to view]

Detailed news piece about Dalieh
[click to view]

Timeline of fencing of Dalieh
[click to view]

Media Links

The Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche
[click to view]

Facebook page for Dalieh
[click to view]

Trailer of the performance "The Sea Is Mine" by the Dictaphone Group about the privatization of Dalieh
[click to view]

Footage from a protest to reclaim Dalieh after activists tear down the fence (credits: Habib Battah)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Map of Zone 10 highlighting exploitation of maritime public property on the Beirut shoreline (taken from the booklet published by The Civil Campaign to Protect the Coast of Raouche)
[click to view]

Map of Dalieh from the French Mandate showing that dallied was declared as 'non- aedificandi' (no construction-zone) (provided by activist and architect Abir Saksouk)
[click to view]

Nowruz celebrations at Dalieh (photo by Beirut Report)
[click to view]

Picture of Dalieh by Beirut Report
[click to view]

Activists Protest the Fencing of Dalieh
[click to view]

[click to view]

The Angry Dolosse Army, intervention by Christian Zahr for Dalieh of Raouche Campaign. Creator: Christian Zahr.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorCatherine Moughalian, Asfari Institue, [email protected]
Last update08/11/2016