A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Cedar Island: mis-underestimating the Lebanese government

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 27, 2009

It looks like Cedar Island, the is-this-an-April-Fool’s-joke project planned off the coast of Damour (and which I have written about here) will now be slower to – tee hee – take root.

The Kipp Report published an article today stating that:

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.”

I’m trying not to laugh and also trying to decide whether the slow government approval is a genuine problem, or merely a euphemism for “let’s see how things go after June 7”.

The article continues:

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.”

I believe that – but the idea that there are 40,000 Lebanese and expats dying to live in a pretend cedar off the coast of Damour leaves me less than sanguine.


2 Responses to “Cedar Island: mis-underestimating the Lebanese government”

  1. Jad Aoun said

    Any Mohammed, Ali or Elie on the street would have told you the original time frame of 3 months to obtain the government approvals was nothing short of a pipe dream. Made you wonder if Saleh actually lives in the country.

  2. Jad, your comment made me laugh. I can’t imagine that Noor Holding doesn’t have Lebanese staffers – after all, how would the Gulf survive without Lebanese to run its businesses? But it does seem unduly optimistic on Saleh’s part – perhaps he thought that he had a connection who could speed things along.

    Who knows 🙂

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