BEIRUT: Residents young and old gathered to inaugurate a new park in Beirut’s southern suburb of Shiyah Wednesday evening.
The gated park, encircled by residential buildings on Abdel-Karim al-Khalil Street, holds green grass and a number of bushes and trees centered around a traditional Mediterranean-style Lebanese house. Adorned with brown wooden shutters, the sand-colored stone house is topped with orange roof tiles and will be used as an office area for children according to locals. Wednesday’s event was sponsored by the Municipality of Ghobeiry.
Ghobeiry’s Mayor Mohammad Said al-Khansa and Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter delivered speeches praising the residents of Beirut’s southern suburbs and the planners of the park.
“We are from you ... the best country and the strong country,” Zeaiter said, addressing a crowd of men, women, and children of all ages, seated in brown plastic chairs placed on the grass as residents looked on from neighboring homes’ windows and balconies.
Following the speeches, officials cut the ribbon leading to the house’s patio, as a brass band played music in the background and helpers passed out sweets. Locals greeted each other jovially and were in a good-humored mood following the inauguration ceremony.
“[This place] is for the kids,” said Ali Barakat, 52, a resident in Beirut’s southern suburbs, who brought his three daughters to the opening.
While most residents were happy over the park, a welcome investment in a neighborhood that suffers from overcrowding and has a reputation as a cement jungle, some were not optimistic that it would stay in its current spotless state.
“[The park] is important and beautiful, but in two months we’ll see if it stays like it is now,” said a resident of a building overlooking the park who requested anonymity. Sitting next to his young son, the father of three said that the park was clean now because of the distinguished guest list of ministers and Parliament members along with the presence of media. But residents who border the ground could ruin its pristine condition, he said.
As the unnamed man was speaking, some members of the community were discarding cigarettes or the wrappers of sweets in the green space. He wondered if the municipality would continue to maintain the area after the inaugural period.
“After two months, you’ll see if it’s different from before,” he said, adding “like any other garden.”