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Solange El-jbeily

Solange El-jbeily

"Noor International Holding", located in Beirut, declared its determination to present to the Lebanese official authorities the development of "Lebanon's Cedar Island" project facing the Lebanese coast in order to get the approvals. The company revealed also that the project is an artificial island in the sea and it is similar to Lebanon's national symbol. It is worth mentioning that this island will be the biggest artificial tree in the history.

This island will include service, entertaining, touristic, commercial and residential compounds characterized by a great luxuriousness that is in harmony with the modern lifestyle, in addition to the availability of the best accommodations. Moreover, the company mentioned that it will be the main developer of the project and that it has started its calls with many Lebanese investors residing in Lebanon and abroad, with Arabs and other investment parties.

The chairman of the board of directors in "Noor International Holding", Dr. Muhammad Saleh, declared that the project aims at reinforcing Lebanon's position as a pioneer touristic and investment figure at the international level and at attracting the visitors and the investors from all over the world to visit Lebanon. Furthermore, Dr. Saleh (the inventor of the project's idea) clarified that the company's board of directors visited some political leaders in order to get "the blessing" regarding the idea of the project's presentation and he confirmed that the idea was welcomed. The board of directors visited also the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL)Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), which is responsible for encouraging the investments in Lebanon, in order to start the authorization's procedures. Saleh expressed his hope for getting the official approval related to the project, in addition to the issuance of the necessary authorizations as soon as possible due to the serious interest of the investors in joining the giant "Cedar Island" project. Dr. Saleh added that the project will provide 50.000 job opportunities, clarifying that the company's strategy is to form alliances with the most important companies in this field in order to provide the best services in the project. In addition, he mentioned that more details will be announced about "Lebanon's Cedar Island" after getting the necessary approvals.

According to Dr. Saleh, it is expected that the accomplishment of this project will take 3 to 4 years after getting the specific authorizations and decrees from the competent Lebanese parties.

Dr. Saleh confirmed that the project, in its plans, takes into consideration the protection of the maritime environment without causing any damages to it due to the fact that some of the Island's parts will be the cedar's branches floating above the sea surface. He also mentioned that many investment companies showed their interest in investing in this project, among them are the Lebanese-Saudi Affairs Council, the Saudi based company Al Hokair Group for Tourism and Development, Qatarian and Bahraini companies and El Behbehani GroupEl Behbehani Group in Kuwait.

The company revealed that fst negotiations are taking place with several companies in order to present the consultative services and among these companies is the American company B.A. specialized in the water projects worldwide. In order to carry out construction works related to the project, the company made contracts with the biggest universal companies such as Panasonic CorporationPanasonic Corporation, the universal Chinese Hawawi Corporation, the British Homes Express Corporation specialized in the real estate marketing and Navy International Group specialized in controlling the environmental pollution. Thus, "Noor International Holding" prepared a universal alliance in the field of engineering, construction, marketing, administration and environmental and economic studies and it formed a giant structure in order to carry out this special project.

It is worth mentioning that CP Company, one of Noor International HoldingNoor International Holding's companies, got a work of art and literature registration certificate, holding No. 4125, on 28th February 2008, issuance No. 1515. This certificate is issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Economy - the Department of the intellectual property's protection in Lebanon.

24 January 2009

Pamela Haydamous

Pamela Haydamous

Y isn't anyone commenting on this project?? i think its one of the worst ideas the lebanese has ever had!! instead of preserving our natural cedar trees and other forests and groves, we are building an artificial cedar in the SEA!! which is also polluted with hills of garbage?? when r we going to stop ruining every natural element we have in this country? not to mention the tons of fishermen and their families who r going to loose their jobs for the sake of some idea that is neither genuine nor original.. so because dubai has the palm in its sea, we are building our own cedar?? come onwe have to wake up a bit and focus on what reallly matters and already exists...
Solange El-jbeily

Solange El-jbeily

A Beirut company has unveiled plans to build an island in the shape of a cedar tree off the coast of Lebanon, with over 300 villas, a golf course and a self-contained infrastructure, including a water treatment centre and power plant.

The $7.4 billion Island, on which hundreds of Lebanese have apparently already asked to buy houses, is being developed by Noor International Holding, headed by Dr Muhammad Saleh, a Lebanese civil engineer who developed the world's tallest hotel, the Rose Tower in Dubai.

Working with a team of more than 20 architects, civil engineers, environmental and investment consultants, Noor has produced detailed plans for the enterprise, and has, it says, letters of intent from investors in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Holland, Mexico, Panama and – most of all – Lebanon.

Speaking to NOW Lebanon, Dr. Saleh said that funding was not a problem, that environmental and marine assessments were underway; that Ernst & Young, the financial services company, was refining the first draft of the economic analysis and that Tourism Minister Elie Marouni expressed his support for the enterprise this week.

"I got the idea," said Dr Saleh, "when I was on a plane in 2005, looking at the logo of Middle East Airlines – a cedar. And then when I was in Lebanon I saw the shore, and I saw how we could make a city." A dream it may once have been, but the financial world seems to be taking it seriously. Investment fund managers have been in touch to discuss international investment, and Aston Martin wants to present the project to its owners' club at the launch of their new car in November.

The project has its skeptics. Thomas Schellen, publishing editor of Lebanon's Zaywa Industry Research, pointed out that the Lebanese environment could present problems. "The Mediterranean coast," he said, "is battered by storms most winters and projects like the sea wall for the new Corniche show that building construction on the coastline is not a simple proposition." Similar islands have, of course, been constructed off the coast of Dubai, but, say Schellen, "the Arabian Gulf with its shallow waters is much easier to deal with."

Furthermore, he pointed out, mega-projects do not have a good track record in Lebanon. "Some years ago," he said, "Gulf investors launched what was to become Sannine Zenith resort on one percent of Lebanon's surface. They had models, a theme song, a marketing office, and the works. They already bought properties. To date, the Sannine Zenith has not moved an inch."

However, according to Dr. Saleh, the only obstacle to beginning work on the project is getting the necessary permits, although the volume of paperwork necessary makes Cedar Island, as he said, "a high-risk venture." Permission must come from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, then from the civil authorities, then the Environment Ministry, then Parliament and finally a Presidential decree must be issued. "We are looking at a time scale of four to six months," said Dr. Saleh, "Inshallah."

Criticism has also come from environmentalists, who have raised concerns that building a giant artificial island will affect marine and coastal bird life. Amir Shahab works on research for the project, and counters that they are finding a site for land reclamation, which will "not have a coral reef, we are making sure there will be no bird habitat and no fishermen whose livelihood depends on fish stocks." It will, in the long run, he said, become an artificial reef environment for fish, and the water treatment facility will prevent stagnation.

The project is slated to be in Damour, just south of Rafik Hariri International Airport, and to take between three and four years to build. According to Noor International, it will create 50,000 jobs, and take advantage of willingness to invest and buy in Lebanon as the country's economy remains strong in comparison with troubled markets in the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, among Lebanese blogs and on Facebook, the subject is dividing people sharply. Blogger Qika Nabki wrote, "Am I the last person to hear about this? Say it isn't so!" The online community also expressed the view that this island is so similar to the Palm Island in Dubai that it will move Lebanon closer to being what one Facebook user called "another Dubai-Disney-land."

"I'm horrified! Lebanon isn't Dubai," wrote a member of the 963-strong Facebook group "No for Cedar Island." However, a Facebook group of fans of the project numbered more than 4,000 and was growing. One commenter made the point that he was against the idea because it would create an easy target in the event of more conflict with Israel.

"Well sure," said Dr. Saleh when questioned about the security aspect, "if there is a war, we'll stop." However, he explained, he unveiled the plans only as US President Barack Obama took office, because, "he will help the Arab world," and conflict is unlikely in the future.

You don't have to be optimistic to work in the Noor offices, it seems, but it helps. "We passed through a lot of difficulties in Lebanon," chimed in Lilian Haddad, who is handling the company's investor contracts, "and I think it's saturated, it's over."