While everyone jumped from one pub to the next in Mar Mkhayel yesterday to catch the first game of the FIFA World Cup, there was a woman there standing in disbelief in the midst of her living room, looking over the streets filled with traffic. She was not looking out of a window.
The Facebook group advocating to Save Beirut’s Heritage (link) is trying to propagate the story of a woman who could have died because of the greed of contractors in Beirut who know there’s no law to hunt them, no regulations to constrict them and no one to tell them they did nothing wrong.
Right next to that woman’s house is a 1920s building which as of yesterday does not exist anymore. In the process of demolishing that building, her own apartment’s walls were destroyed in the process. If that woman had been there while those skilled workers were doing their “job” she would have been seriously injured, if not killed. The wall that was demolished is that of her living room. Her apartment is in a building that’s over 100 years old. The contractor has offered the woman to buy her another apartment instead, but what good would that do when it could have almost cost that woman her life?
Let’s not be gullible and assume it’s an innocent mistake. I don’t know the woman’s name. I don’t know who the contractor is. What I do know, however, is that the practice of damaging houses “accidentally” in order to force their tenants to evict has been going on for a long time in Beirut as the city’s manic rush to exemplify its concrete maze status is pushed full gear.
This isn’t about the value of an old house in Mar Mkhayel, although that’s another topic worth discussing in itself especially that the area is facing yet another round of demolition soon with the Fouad Boutros Highway tearing it apart. This is about the length that Beirut’s real estate mafia would go to in order to get that new “it” high-rise they’re craving for so much. This is about how little the lives and well-being of people mean in the grand picture of millions of dollars in investment being put to remodel the city and make it more chaotic, irregular and without a character than it already is.
A few blogs have already spoken about the issue (here and here), but I believe this is something vital to highlight so here I am trying to propagate it further. Beirut’s Municipality should care less about fencing Rawche at this point and care more about the well-being of the people in the city, the people who are dying because of their total disregard to the illegality taking place here. Lebanon’s ministry of interior should care less about people not having an easy path to World Cup watching and care more about making sure such a thing never happens again.
Yesterday, this woman returned to a damaged home. Some other day, many of us – living in old Beiruti apartments in areas bustling with construction – could suddenly face a reality without home.
These are a few pictures from Save Beirut Heritage:
Reblogged this on Ned Hamson Second Line View of the News and commented:
Oops! We knocked down another house accidentally for the 500th time – let’s go for 1,000! Not.
When Beirut looks exactly like 1,000 modern trash cities, why will people visit and what happens when all the creatives leave? Well – you won’t have to wait long to find out.
Sorry, I did not fully grasp the situation… The neighboring woman’s house was deliberately damaged so as to get her to move out in order for the developer to win(at some cost to re-establish a new home for the lady) that extra land for his project? Is that the intention? So this action was probably pre-negotiated between the developer and the contractor? And similar scenarios have risen all over Beirut?
Would the new apartment be in the same location? Buy somewhere else? Or would the general contractor rebuild on the existing lot?
Anyone know how high the water-table can get in Beirut or more specifically in that area?
Apologies for the numerous questions that may not have a straight-up answer.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for bringing such a concern to our attention. Me personally, not living in Beirut, would have had no idea.
I say…..HE OWES HER A PENT-HOUSE APARTMENT IN THE NEW PROPOSED BUILDING!!
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reminds me of the Pixar movie UP 😀