BEIRUT: The world’s “first floating island,” currently under construction and destined for Jounieh Bay, has been rejected by municipality officials as incompatible with the seaside resort town.
“There is no place for the island in Jounieh,” Mayor Antoine Frem told The Daily Star, adding that the municipality did not have the capacity to accommodate the island’s guests.
Frem said the Municipal Council had decided not to grant permission for the project, which was to launch in Jounieh in summer 2015
“A project of this caliber needs to be constructed in an area that does not have a dense population” Frem said, stressing that the project would require infrastructure and a large number of parking spaces.
The mayor also raised environmental concerns, pointing out that mechanisms for waste and sewage management had yet to be resolved.
The Daou family has been working on the world’s “first floating island” for 15 years. The family formed Beirut International Marine Industry and Commerce in 2003, and the company says the island will be ready in 2015.
Founder and Chairman Abdullah Daou told The Daily Star that the company received legal permission for the project from the municipality when Juan Hbeich was mayor of Jounieh, a year before Frem was elected.
After being elected in 2010, Frem revoked the prior administration’s approval and the file was returned to the Higher Commission for Urban Planning.
According to Daou, the chief of the commission, Elias Tawil, said that approval was revoked due to a decree issued by then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri ordering the cancellation of all construction permits issued before he took office.
“The Jounieh floating island company is not a part of any political conflict in Lebanon, and especially in Jounieh,” Daou said, urging Frem to have a serious look into the issue.
Nevertheless, Daou insisted that he was working in accordance with the law.
"We have legal permission to construct the floating island and we do not work unless [in line] with Lebanese law," he said.
Daou hailed the impact of the floating island work on Lebanese economic and cultural values, extending an invitation to Frem to be a guest of the project. According to the company, Daou has spent 15 years developing the technology and holds patents in the innovative field.
Based on the Dhow-4 technology, the large structure with a main deck 1 to 2 meters above sea level will contain a sea resort, hotel, gym, nightclub, restaurant, sporting activities and much more, according to the company. The Jounieh Floating Island Resort is to be a five-star hotel with a surface area of 3,400 square meters, including 64 rooms, 80 cabins and a rooftop restaurant.