Last year, we were allowed inside Beirut’s only major park for just one day. This year, (tomorrow May 16) we will be standing outside at the gates demanding to be let back in. This because the municipality of Beirut–and specifically the mayor–has repeatedly claimed the public is not ready, not clean or too wild.
Many Beirut residents beg to differ. They say the people need a park and all the park needs is a simple maintenance crew with regular cleaning schedule. They also question why the mayor has failed to deliver on his promise (recorded on youtube three years ago) to open the park in 2012. The municipality has plenty of money (at least $1 billion in reserves) to get this done.
Yet while they have been making excuses, the park remains shut. Here is what we have been missing:
The park is so big its difficult to sum it up in a few pictures:
There’s a botanical garden toward the middle:
Where last year, the activists organized yoga sessions:
There’s a great sandpit, where kids can play:
And so many quiet corners to enjoy:
I was happy to see families defying the municipality’s ridiculous signs prohibiting people from sitting in the grass:
Interestingly, we noticed a new Range Rover pull into the park despite the fact that it’s supposedly closed to people traffic, let alone cars.