Public Space

English

The Dalieh of Raouche Watch Day, organized in cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation, is part of a larger project aiming at celebrating Beirut’s natural and built heritage. The project builds on activists effort by the Dalieh Campaign since 2013 to protect the Dalieh of Raouche, located on the Western coast of Beirut, as a site of exceptional ecological, geological and biodiversity value, archaeological and cultural value and the only remaining natural, publicly accessible landscape in Beirut.

Public space is essential for urban life - it enables people from all social strata and backgrounds to meet, enjoy the space together, and form a harmonious identity. Yet, Beirut is notorious for its lack of such spaces.

Before the civil war, Horsh Beirut, was the only sizeable park of the city, and a place for gatherings, festivals, and traditions. However, in 1982 an Israeli raid destroyed most of it, decimating the number of trees. So following the end of the war, the Municipality of Beirut signed a partnership agreement with the Regional Council of Ile-de-France to rehabilitate the park with the initial plan of reopening it to the public in 1995. This date was then pushed back to 2002 in order to allow the newly planted pine trees to grow bigger1. However, the year 2002 came and yet the gates to the park remained shut to the public, and became only accessible to those who request a special permit from the Municipality. In practice, the vast majority of Beirut residents had become deprived of their right to enjoy the place, under the pretext that the municipality is inadequately equipped to manage it. This led NAHNOO, a youth non-governmental organization, to spearhead the “Horsh Beirut for All” advocacy campaign to challenge the situation in late 2010 which led to its reopening to the public 5 years later, in 2015.

This brochure tells the story of our journey.

After the recent opening of Horsh Beirut to the public, Assabil Friends of Public Libraries and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East will soon host #Horsh2016!

Architectural standards recreate gender, racial and class hierarchies, just as local cultural productions reinforce specific notions of women-as-space.