July 2, 2015

Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star

SIDON, Lebanon: The Municipality of Sidon will construct a new public garden in the southern city, with a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the new green space set for Thursday. Sidon Public Garden will stretch 7,000 square meters and extend over to the city’s waterfront. It is one of three gardens that have been planned for the southern city, where a lack of green spaces has been a perennial problem.

The new garden overlooks the Omari mosque and the sea. In time, pathways, trees, plants, artificial grass, service facilities, kiosks, public toilets and lighting systems will also be developed and installed, according to sources familiar with the plan. For the past two months bulldozers have been busy at work in the planned garden’s site.

Sidon MPs Bahia Hariri and Fouad Siniora are following the construction of the garden. Funding was procured from the Khalife Bin Zayad al-Nahyan Foundation and the project itself is being implemented by the main contractor RY for Construction with the help of General Construction & Co (GENECO) and under the supervision of Khatib & Alami, and the Sidon municipality.

The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz garden in Sidon’s northern entrance is among the other planned green spaces, as is another to replace the notorious waste dump.

The new garden is located in front of residences and shopping centers, but the project won’t prevent residents from reaching the main retail boulevard. By Wednesday night, preparations for Thursday’s unveiling ceremony kicked into high gear.

Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi told The Daily Star that the garden would overlook a new commercial port, which is also being constructed. Hariri, Siniora and Saudi will be among those speaking at Thursday’s event, along with the newly appointed UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Hamad bin Saeed al-Shamsi.

In recent years Sidon has witnessed new development projects aiming to improve the environment and serve the interests of residents.

Some student groups and civil society activists have also launched initiatives to clean neighborhoods, with cooperation from the municipality. They have also helped to broker certain agreements to help rehabilitate Sidon’s polluted shoreline.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 02, 2015, on page 4.