Beirut’s Cedar Island delayed
Construction of the controversial Cedar Island in Lebanon will be delayed until after the nation holds its elections.
April 27, 2009 12:11 by Dana El Baltaji
Work on Cedar Island, an $8.2 billion artificial island off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, will be postponed until after the parliamentary elections in June. The project developer, Noor International Holding, confirmed to MEED magazine that it underestimated the amount of time the Lebanese government needs to approve a project of this size.
In February, Noor announced it hoped to begin construction before the end of May, ahead of the elections in June.
“We are still waiting for permits from the authorities, so everything is on hold,” a spokesman for Noor said. “Hopefully we can move after the elections before the summer vacation starts.”
According to the developer, the project will take four years to construct and will house over 40,000 residents. The island will be a comprehensive community, and will feature villas, apartments, shopping complexes, schools and hospitals.
The project has received a flood of criticism due to its size and location: environmentalists insist that the nation is not in need of Dubai-style constructions to lure investors, and point to the negative impact dredging will have on marine life in the project’s construction site, and economists question whether the developer can secure the funds required to complete the project.
“I cannot see who will do it and how the funding will be secured, particularly when states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with billions in reserves, are halting projects,” Lebanese economist, Louis Hobeika said to Beirut-based newspaper The Daily Star.
Mohammad Saleh, the chairman of the board of directors at Noor International Holding, insists the project will attract funding in spite of the global economic downturn: “I am not worried about the global crisis, because my main target is Lebanese expatriates who have nostalgia for their country and would like to invest in it,” said Saleh.
“Unlike foreign investors, these people are used to Lebanon’s system, its ups and downs.”