A project to build a new capital city for the Republic of Lebanon has been initiated and LBP 1.5 trillion ($1 billion) has already been pledged for the master plan and the acquisition of land, representatives of the Friends of Open Lebanese Society organization and Dar Arab Youth, an affiliate of the Arab Legacy League, told Executive exclusively on the sidelines of a project preparation meeting in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
The representatives, who refused to be named for reasons of not being authorized to speak to female journalists, said the plan for a new Lebanese capital had been drafted by international economic committees and global political stakeholders partly because of the persistent lack of public transportation and coastal preservation in the current capital, Beirut.
“This, if allowed to continue, will make Beirut unsuitable for local politicians and foreign emissaries to live and work in. Instead of having them commute from cities abroad for occasional meetings and speeches, the international stakeholders have initiated the project for creating a new capital where all these dignitaries and officials can live together in a happy and productive environment,” argued the representative.
The project committee studied examples of successful capital relocation projects in Brazil, Nigeria, Lithuania and most recently, Egypt, and found that Lebanon has all the requirements for making such an enterprise succeed. The project will create millions of job opportunities and unleash the underused utilization rate of funds in the Lebanese banking system, one representative of the Friends of Open Lebanese Society said.
A Dar Arab Youth representative added in a confidential tone that two top tier locations for a possible construction site had already been identified, one in the northeast and one in the extreme southeast of the country. Land purchases from adjacent countries could be part of the deal and would be “very affordable due to certain specificities,” the DAY representative said.
Both representatives conceded that the plan also had an additional aim of incentivizing capable candidates to stand for election as Lebanese president. The president to approve the project would be given naming rights for the new capital and all major streets in it, among other perks and privileges such as a lifelong right to reside in the new capital’s mansion for retired heads of state.
The capital will be created as a fully green and LEED certified city with automatic collection and recycling of all wastes and will have the new presidential offices at its center. Other elements of the new capital entail a theme park on the history of the Middle East, tourism attractions, a world-level convention center and an industrial free zone that will host startup companies with ambitious plans ranging from the manufacture of supercars and space stations to the construction of artificial islands.
The international stakeholders in shaping the future of Lebanon have already commissioned global consulting firm Bull, Atkins, Daher & Associates (BAD&Ass.) to conduct feasibility studies and advanced geothermal examinations of the proposed sites for the new city. Jeremiah “John” Bull, who founded the consultancy in 2006 with fellow graduates from the prestigious South Harmon Institute of Technology in the United States, told Executive that the project was indeed one of almost total certainty and guaranteed to improve the nation’s governance further.
“Recent Lebanese governments have made great stride in advancing the economic participation and social justice for all and we are confident that the new capital, which will be state of the art with the small help of our consulting firm, will not only be built in record time but will also provide the tools for perfect efficiency in all government institutions and agencies,” he said.
He refused, however, to speculate how soon construction of the new capital city in the hills would be able to commence. In closing, Bull added that his consulting firm was currently inviting tender bids from Beirut-based public relations firms to develop and implement an awareness and sympathy building campaign for the new capital. “It will be a very attractive contract and we expect extremely competitive bids,” he noted.