The saga of selling land to foreigners in Lebanon keeps escalating. After a 7000 sqm land was sold to a Saudi Prince near the Harissa Valley in Keserwan, and another land in Lassa, Jbeil was taken out of Maronite Church property to be given to the nearby Shia mosque, it’s the turn of a town in Jezzine called Sabbah to have one of its hills sold to a Khaliji woman.
The hill’s area is 40,000 sqm. It’s owned by the heirs of Habib Bassil, who owned hundreds of thousands of squared meters of land in Sabbah. His estate is run by Mona Bassil, a lawyer and one of the current members in Sabbah’s municipality. People are worried some sort of deal will also be struck regarding the remainder of his properties, which would have catastrophic consequences on their hometown.
The land itself was shown to the princess’s manager by a very renowned Maronite broker who took him on a trip around Jezzine in order to sell him some land. Of all the places that she showed him, the manager liked the hill in question because of its strategic location: it spreads from the St. Elias church near Sabbah’s center, to the edges of the Our Lady of Machmouche convent which is a very important religious place for the Maronites of the region, to the resting place of “Nabiyye Mikha” in the Northern parts of Sabbah.
The municipality is even accused of selling other properties to different people without double checking their identity, which the mayor didn’t deny although he downplayed the severity of it.
This is not the only land currently being offered in the area. Another land in a nearby town (Bteddine el Laqsh), of an area totaling 10,000 sqm, is being sold to Salafists from Saida, even though a Christian buyer is interested and has made an offer.
In another Jezzine town called Zaarour, a huge land owned by the El Helou family is in negotiations to be sold to Shia contractors who will turn the pine forest into a buildings compound. (source)
None of Jezzine’s MPs decided to intervene. Church facilities also didn’t care enough to help stop these transactions.
I guess all the people in power who are worried about Christian influence waning in Lebanon only know to preach but when it comes down to actually doing something, they are as useless as the brokers making sure the land is going to non-Lebanese or Lebanese who will change the identity of the land forever.
I reiterate – I do not raise this issue out of a sectarian agenda, but when I can’t own land in the khalij, why should they be allowed to own land in my country? And when there’s even a tendency among your fellow Lebanese to own as much land as possible for their own hidden agendas, being vigilant is of utmost importance.
It is here that I invite you to re-read (or read if you haven’t done so already) the points I raised when it came to the sale of the land in Dlebta, Keserwan.