- Title: LEBANON-PARK Beirut park reopens to the public
- Date: 7th September 2015
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CITIZEN, WALID JADD, HANGING OUT AT HORSH BEIRUT PARK SAYING: "This is beautiful, we lack such a place in Beirut that has clean air, far from more or less pollution from the outside, the children have a place to play in, we can do a picnic and its beautiful that nobody can smoke here." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE HANGING OUT AT THE PARK VARIOUS OF CHILD PLAYING ON BICYCLE IN THE PARK (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CITIZEN, GISELE SAWAYA, HANGING OUT AT HORSH BEIRUT PARK SAYING: "The security is good, the park is clean and the people are very happy, at least its a breathing space, when we were passing these green trees, pathways, and gardens its something very beautiful." VARIOUS OF CHILDREN PLAYING IN THE PARK VARIOUS OF COUPLE LAYING ON THE GRASS IN THE PARK (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CITIZEN, LAURIELLE, HANGING OUT AT HORSH BEIRUT PARK SAYING: "It is the first time in Lebanon where we can do something for free, we have to pay for everything if we want to go swimming or anything we have to pay. I am happy that everyone can come here and have a good time with the family and friends." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE BETWEEN TREES IN THE PARK HORSH BEIRUT PARK
- Embargoed: 22nd September 2015 13:00
- Location: Lebanon
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA2487UIOYZCTF2ELT0T1BN0BLU
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: With skyscrapers adorning the edge of Beirut's Horsh Beirut park, the green space offers refuge to those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
But for many years, people have been denied access to the swathes of land here, that was until it was reopened to the public.
On Saturday (September 5) Horsh Beirut also known as Horsh Al-Sanawbar, Arabic for Pine Grove, saw dozens of people making their way to the park, after years of campaigning the public have finally been given access to it.
Mohammad Ayoub is one of the campaigners.
"The first campaign we launched concerning public spaces was reopening and activating Horsh Beirut because in Beirut we do not have green spaces at all; 0.8 meter square is the ratio of green spaces in times where the World Health Organization states that it should be 12 meters square to every person. And this 0.8 meters squared of green spaces are located in private areas, meaning myself as a citizen have no access to it, therefore we felt there is a necessity to open green spaces and increase it,'' said Ayoub who is the Executive Director of 'Nahnoo', a youth-lead non-governmental organization.
The park previously had a strict entrance policy, resulting in locals unable to make use of the space in their own city.
Covering around 40 thousand square metres, the park accounts for more than 70 percent of the Lebanese capital's green spaces.
Now locals can make the most it. But they need to adhere to certain rules, like no smoking, barbecuing or hunting in the park.
"It's beautiful for someone to have such a peaceful place to sit with friends, read a book and exercise, it is nice to have green zones in Beirut,'' said Lebanese citizen Christopher Rizkallah.
'The park is clean and the people are very happy, at least its a breathing space, when we were passing these green trees, pathways, and gardens its something very beautiful,'' added another Lebanese citizen, Gisele Sawaya who was at the park with her daughter.
It's taken 22-years for the park to reopen, with some locals praising the fact that they don't have to pay to gain access to it.
"It is the first time in Lebanon where we can do something for free, we have to pay for everything if we want to go swimming or anything we have to pay. I am happy that everyone can come here and have a good time with the family and friends,'' said Lebanese citizen, Laurielle.
It took campaigners four years to convince the authorities to allow people in to relax on the grass here and for children to explore the woodland.
Locals can come to the park every Saturday from 7am to 7pm, and according to Ayoub it will eventually be open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Campaigners are hopeful that once the necessary restoration work is done in certain areas of the park, it will be open to visitors on a daily basis.
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