My dear fellow expat Lebanese,
Without realizing it, you are funding the destruction of Lebanon's environment and the culture of corruption.
By tempting the resident Lebanese with your apparent (and relative) wealth, and in the absence of any enforceable environmental and urban development regulations, you are incentivizing the death of Lebanon's environment and forests at the hands of its own people.
The ongoing frenzy of construction is driven not by any need for housing (since young Lebanese continue to flee the abject conditions and emigrate in droves), but by greed for money which the ordinary Lebanese make by selling ancestral land to profit-driven and environmentally-indifferent developers who, in turn, are running a campaign directed at you calling on you to buy a piece of this pseudo-paradise called Lebanon as a proof of your "loyalty" to the old country.
The ordinary Lebanese do not benefit in any other way from this market, since none of the profits go to fixing chronic infrastructure deficits like water, electricity, roads, safety, anti-corruption measures, clean air, clean ocean, Internet etc...The only way that the ordinary Lebanese think they are benefiting from selling their lands is to use the money to imitate the corrupt wealthy rulers who lord over their lives, and display ostentatious images of themselves with bigger gas-guzzling cars that are too big for the tiny roads here and other superficialities and primitive proofs of "modernity", wealth and power. Only corrupt developers and politicians are benefiting from this trade and onslaught of chaotic unregulated construction.
That is precisely what Gebran Bassil, the Foreign Minister, is lobbying you for. His globe-trotting in the Americas and elsewhere aims at two things: 1- to get you to register as Lebanese citizens (so he can artificially increase the numbers of Christian "inhabitants" and therefore "voters"). In this, he follows the path of Zionist settlers who continue to push Jewish people from around the world to go and buy homes in occupied Palestine. and 2 - to get you to buy a house or apartment in Lebanon, something he considers as driving the economy. In so doing, he is incentivizing greedy developers who wouldn't care less for the environment to continue buying land and building ugly buildings every which way in every forgotten patch of forest in the hills of Mount Lebanon.
This supposed rise in demand is also driving prices beyond what the economy can actually sustain, in a bubble reminiscent of the real estate collapse in the US in 2007-2008. Be careful investing in real estate in Lebanon; you could be throwing good money after lies disguised under illusions of patriotism and pseudo-paradises on earth that this tormented, tortured country supposedly has to offer you. All the fancy-gated communities the developers are building, in a baboon imitation of Western style living, could evaporate in a minute, the moment civil unrest erupts, which could happen at any moment.
Lebanon has always lived on the edge of wars and massacres and occupations; that is why you and your ancestors left in such large numbers for most of the past 150 years. The country could fall in civil unrest and war in a flash. Lebanon is still very far from the stability that the politicians are promising for reasons that have to do with the existence of a paramilitary force (Hezbollah) at least as powerful as the national army; the sectarian build-up of the state that could lead to instantaneous ignition and combustion, including the breakdown of the army into sectarian militias as it did in the 1970s and 1980s; the absence of a genuine, religious-free Lebanese identity around which the country could coalesce into a nation; the existence next door of an Israeli-Palestinian conflict whose solution appears increasingly to be a catastrophic one, with serious consequences on Lebanon; the Arab Spring revolutions all over the Middle East are not all caused by imagined Iranian-Saudi-American conspiracies; they are genuine popular uprisings by peoples who have had enough of corrupt dictatorships and monarchies, and fake republics, and this does not bode well for any stability and improvement in the near future.
The answer really is to impose a halt on construction until such time as serious regulations are put in place to protect what remains of Lebanon's forests and environment.
Here is a summary of the preceding in 4 concise reasons why we beg you to not buy real estate in Lebanon:
Reason 1 - It is a terrible waste of your money to spend a fortune on an apartment in Lebanon, just so you can come and spend a couple of weeks every other summer.
Reason 2 - By you, the emigrants, buying real estate in Lebanon, you are funding the destruction of Lebanon's environment, replacing forests, trees, beaches with ugly cheap concrete, and you are lining the pockets of corrupt politicians and greedy developers.
Reason 3 - The current wave of optimism is illusory and fake. Lebanon has always been on a tinderbox of sectarian and religious warfare; it will always be a focus for foreign occupations and interference. Imagine what a victorious Bashar Assad in Syria would want to do to Lebanon: revenge for his eviction in 2005. Just as the Lebanese politicians always say they'll be the last to sign peace with Israel, Lebanon will be the last Arab country to see stability and prosperity.
Reason 4 - The country rejected you and/or your fathers and grandfathers during numerous wars over the past 150 years. Since the country has not fundamentally changed, it is still rejecting its young people and driving them to emigrate. Why would it suddenly become a haven for decent governance, separation of religion from matters of State, economic opportunity for everyone (not just the corrupt political and merchant elite that is sucking the blood of the majority ordinary Lebanese)....??? All that Gebran Bassil wants from your money is your headcount (like cattle in the rodeo) and your money.
I leave you with one proposal: At least, use the fact that Lebanon's corrupt class is courting you for your money to demand a quid pro quo: Tell Bassil YES we will invest in Lebanon, but on the following conditions FIRST:
- END CORRUPTION
- TREAT ORDINARY LEBANESE LIKE HUMAN BEINGS IN YOUR DISGUSTING ADMINISTRATIONS
- BUILD A DECENT INFRASTRUCTURE of WATER, ELECTRICITY, INTERNET, ROADS, SAFETY, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
- PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT WITH TOUGH REGULATIONS
- HALT THE RAVAGE OF THE FORESTS AND OCEANFRONTS BY GREEDY DEVELOPERS
- LIMIT THE IMPORT OF AUTOMOBILES TO A SMALL NUMBER PER YEAR, AND BAN LARGE NON-COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
I COULD GO ON, BUT IF ONLY A FEW OF THE ABOVE ARE IMPLEMENTED, IT WOULD BE A GOOD START.
- PICK UP ALL THE TRASH AND GARBAGE FROM EVERY ROAD AND STREET