To Whom Does Dalieh Belong?

Making Spaces for Communal Sovereignty: The Story of Beirut’s Dalieh

by Abir Saksouk-Sasso


In Paul Amar’s article, specifically Abir Saksouk-Sasso’s “Making Spaces for Communal Sovereignty: The Story of Beirut’s Dalieh,” the question of “to whom does Dalieh belong?” was brought up. Its absurd to know that the largest city in Lebanon, Beirut, only has one square meter per person of open green areas, as opposed to the minimum recommendation of forty square meters per person. This has resulted from the massive form of private exploitations of public spaces in Beirut, which in turn has led to a limited number of open spaces for the public and “almost only privatized spaces.” So what does this look like? It looks like a war for the ownership of Beirut, ownership through either privatized spaces or spaces for the public.

Spaces for the public should be “marked by free interaction and the absence of coercion of public institutions.” In other words, these public spaces should be with no form of coerced privatization involved. Hamad, Beirut’s mayor, reflected this notion of “coercing public institutions” when he stated that public spaces should be used only by the modernly “appropriate public/proper public.” This idea of the “proper public” means that people need to be “well behaved” in order to be in these PUBLIC spaces, which is completely ridiculous because it is such a degrading view.


Dalieh, which is the last surviving seaside community in Beirut, illustrates a powerful example of a space for the public. Dalieh has demonstrated how the PUBLIC, not the “proper public” which Hamad has deemed to be “worthy” of these spaces, have successfully managed and maintained this space without the sovereign state.

The fight for Dalieh has started because “sovereign” state has intervened and wants to privatized one of the last spaces for the public, Dalieh. As Abir Saksouk-Sasso argued, “everyday practices, as opposed to the state, determine, produce, and sustain urban public space in the city.” So, to whom will Dalieh belong?


To Whom Does Dalieh Belong?

Beirut and #youstink

Of the readings, the part that stuck out to me most were the pictures of Lebanon, both the protests and the trash covering the streets. The people contest that the government is showing itself to be weak and inefficient if it is not able to properly carry out waste management duties for the country. The reading states that the main landfill in Beirut was closed down and since then the trash had been collecting for over a month. The article was from August of 2015. While I’d agree that the government of Lebanon is certainly failing to address some issues related their garbage, and more importantly their citizens, I also think that the trash crisis in Beirut is relevant to something other than rights and government abuses. I’m not sure why that landfill was shut down but it could have been that it was full. If so the Beirut trash crisis is more of a caution of human failing than just the government’s. People generated too much trash and people didn’t plan for what happened if the landfills they currently had weren’t sufficient to accommodate it. As landfills around the world fill up it seems only a matter of time before a similar situation occurs in another country. The Beirut trash crisis is just as much an environmental warning as it is an example of governmental neglect.

The article that stuck out to me most was the first one, the one that pertained to issues surrounding the privatization of Dalieh. The article went into a lot of detail about how the area was public use and sovereignty could be defined as those who use a public space. However the property was still bought by investors and the communities surrounding it were bought out.  It reminds me of the after Tahir panel discussion of the government and military working with contractors to gentrify the country. It seems something similar is going on in Lebanon.

Beirut and #youstink