SIDON, Lebanon: Sidon MP Bahia Hariri launched an initiative Sunday aimed at stimulating the southern city’s ailing economy and tourism by seeking to allay citizens’ concerns after a string of security incidents that rattled the city.
The initiative, marking Mother’s Day on March 21, was announced during a meeting at Hariri’s residence in the village of Majdalyoun, east of Sidon, attended by the city’s Mayor Mohammad al-Soudi, the head of Sidon’s Merchants Association Ali Sharif, and owners of restaurants and tourist and commercial institutions.
The move is aimed at encouraging citizens and visitors from all areas to come to Sidon “to confirm its role as a capital of the south and a city of coexistence,” the National News Agency said.
“The aim of this meeting is to think together how to revitalize the city as a whole. Sidon has gone through severe times, isolation and a [bad] reputation which does not belong to it, causing a sort of business slowdown in the city,” Hariri said in a statement after the meeting.
“Since we are having a forthcoming occasion, Mother’s Day, which we know brings together all the people, the rich and the poor, the March 14 and March 8 [parties], we want to seize this opportunity to transform this individual movement in the city into a society event by presenting a distinctive picture of all of Sidon as it celebrates Mother’s Day,” she added.
The participants promised to offer sales on their goods and hold special activities to encourage visitors to come to Sidon.
Sidon was rocked last year by fierce clashes between the Lebanese Army and supporters of radical preacher Sheikh Ahmad Assir in the neighborhood of Abra.
Some 18 soldiers and 28 gunmen were killed in the clashes. Assir’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Also, militant gunmen have targeted Lebanese Army checkpoints in the past few months, raising fears of a spillover of the Syrian conflict into the southern city.