Table of Contents
It is known that no great work can be accomplished without the union and cooperation of a well-formed team. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude towards my partners and colleagues in this great community, Hayek Group, for their constant encouragement which helped me complete this report.
First, I would like to express my special appreciation to my mentor, Eng. Abdallah Hayek, for being a strong support during this project. It is with great pleasure that I worked on this report because of your guidance and advice.
Second, I would like to mention Ms. Sara Lee Habchi, for putting efforts in following up on this project, and managing my timetables. Without you, I would not have been able to deliver my work on schedule.
Third, my thanks and appreciations go to my colleague Eng. Maura Azar, who helped me develop this project and willingly assisted me with her research abilities.
I would not want to forget Judge Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut, and Mr. Marcelino Hark, the mayor of Batroun Municipality, who took the time to give their input and insights on some important information regarding Batroun. Without your contribution, this report would not be as genuine and real as it is now.
Lastly, I would like to thank copywriter Ms. Rita Camilos for her editing and proofreading skills, which made this report completely understandable and mistake-free.
I cannot say ‘thank you’ enough for this amazing team of motivated people who put their tremendous effort into this work. We were all vital for the success of this project, and I am so grateful that I got the chance to work alongside this team to deliver this report.
CHAPTER 1 - Introduction
Batroun District (kaza, caza, qadaa, قضاء) is one of six districts in the North Governorate.
Its geographical borders are marked by the river Madfoun from the south, and by the river El Jaouz (Nahr El Jaouz) from the north.
Its area is 278 square kilometers. It is surrounded by El-Koura District from the north, by Baalbek District (Baalbek-Hermel Governorate) from the east, and by Jbeil (Byblos) District (Mount Lebanon Governorate) from the south.
The population of Batroun District is estimated at 51,120 inhabitants (which is equivalent to 1.2% of the total population of Lebanon). Batroun, which is a coastal city, is the administrative capital of the caza, with around 20,000 inhabitants. Many ancient monasteries and churches are scattered all over the coast and mountains of Batroun District, especially in the village of Duma which constitutes a touristic attraction. Batroun District is also known for its Cedar Forest rising on the hills of Tannourine. It consists of 56 cities and towns: The coastal cities are: Batroun, Fadous, Chekka, Koubba, Thoum, Selaata, Hamat, Madfoun.
The higher towns are: Abdelleh, Abrine, Assia, Basbina, Bchaaleh, Beit Chlala, Beit Kassab,
Bijdarfil, Billa, Deir Billa, Derya, Douq, Boqsmaya, Chatine, Chabtine, Edde, Ghouma,
HadtounHardine, Heri, Ijdabra, Jran, Jrebta, Kandoula, Kfarabida, Kfar Chleymane, Kfar Hatna,
Kfar Hay, Kfar Hilda, Kfifane, Kfour Al Arbe, Kour, Mazraat Bani Saab, Nahleh, Rachana,
Rachkidda, Ras Nhash, Sghar, Smar Jbeil, Sourat, Toula, Wajh Al Hajar, Wata Hob, Zane, and
The highest villages are: Tannourine El Fawqa, Douma, and Tannourine El Tahta.
1.2 Historical Review
The name ‘Batroun’ derives from the Arabic word ‘al-Batroun’, which derives from the Greek appellation ‘Bothrys’. This name was later Latinized to ‘Botrus’. According to historians, the Greek appellation of the town originates from the Phoenician word, ‘Bater’, which means ‘to cut’. It mainly refers to the maritime wall which was built in the sea by Phoenicians to protect them from tidal waves.
Figure 2: The ancient Phoenician wall in Batroun, Lebanon between 3,300 B.C. to 64 B.C.
Batroun is the “Batruna” mentioned in the Amarna letters dating to the 14th century B.C. It was
mentioned by ancient geographers Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, Stephanus Byzantius, and Hierocles.
Theophanes, who called the city “Bostrys”.
The Phoenicians founded Batroun on the southern side of the promontory, which was called ‘Theoprosopon’ during Antiquity, and ‘Cape Lithoprosopon’ during the Byzantine Empire.
In 551, an earthquake destroyed the city, which also caused mudslides and cracks. It is believed that this earthquake formed the large natural harbor of Batroun.
Figure 3: Harbor of Batroun City
Mseilha Fort, also called “Puy du Connétable”, is one of Batroun City’s landmarks. It is a
medieval fortification situated to the north of the town. This fort was built by Emir Fakherddine
II in the 17th century, to protect the route from Tripoli to Beirut. The fort is constructed on an
extended, narrow limestone rock near Nahr el-Jawz River.
Its walls are constructed with small sandstone blocks quarried from the nearby coast and built onto the sting of the limestone rock. The thickness of the walls ranges from 1.5 to 2 meters (4 to 6.5 feet). The larger limestone blocks are the sole remains of an earlier structure probably built for the identical defensive reason.
Figure 4: Mseilha fort built by Emir Fakherddine II in the 17th century
CHAPTER 2 - Economic Power
2.1 Development Projects
Over the last few years, Batroun District has witnessed a huge growth in relation to development projects with a funding estimated to be around USD 192,307,000. Most notably, the Batroun – Tannourine highway links the city of Batroun to all the villages in the region and finally reaching Tannourine, which is the highest city in the district. In addition, many water projects are taking place, specifically the Mseilha Dam. This dam is 400 meters long, 35 meters high, and has a reservoir of 7,500,000 m3 in volume. Its objective is providing potable water for a portion of the localities in the Cazas of Batroun and Koura, providing water supplies to certain industries in the region, and irrigating agricultural lands located mostly in the North of Nahr El-Jawz with a 1000- hectare exploitable area.
Figure 5: Batroun – Tannourine Highway
Figure 6: Mseilha Dam During Construction Phases
|Project||Authority in Charge||Consultant||Contractor||Date Completed||Estimated Cost (USD MLN)||Sources of Financing|
|Rehabilitation & Widening Tannourine Tahta – Tannourine Fawka Road (Batroun)||CDR||Credo||Mouawad – Eddé||2019||11.5||Lebanon|
|Rehabilitation of Batroun – Kfifan Road, Ejdabra – Bejderfil section (part 3)||CDR||Dar elHandassah (Nazih Taleb)||Nasim Abou Habib Contracting||2019||7||Lebanon|
|Rehabilitation of Eddé – Toula – Mayfouk Road (Batroun District)||Ministry of Public Works||Regional Directorate||Hamid Kairouz Contracting||2018||7.335||Lebanon|
|Waste Water Network Installation in Bcheeleh – Batroun||Ministry of Power & Water||BTD||Nazih Breidy Establishment||2020||2.079||Lebanon|
|Waste Water Network Installation & Pumping Stations in Several Batroun Villages||CDR||Rafic el-khouri Bureau||Hamid Kairouz Bureau||2019||25.393||French Development Agency + Lebanon|
|Al- Msaylha Dam (Batroun)||Ministry of Power & Water||JV Liban Consult/Coyne et BelierTractebel||Batco||2019||63||Lebanon|
|Balaa Dam (Batroun)||Ministry of Power & Water||Al-Itihad (Khatib & Alami) + Artelia (French)||Mouawad – Eddé||2019||36||Lebanon|
|Water Purification Station for Balaa Dam (Batroun)||Ministry of Power & Water||Dar elHandassah (Nazih Taleb)||Mouawad – Eddé||2020||4.5||Lebanon|
|Water Purification Network for Msaylha Dam (Batroun)||Ministry of Power & Water||Liban Consult||Saba Makhlouf + Arab Contractors Company||2021||9||Beirut + Mount Lebanon Water Service|
|Batroun - Bejdarfel Road||Ministry of Power & Water||Dar AlHandasah Nazih Taleb & Partners||Ets Nassim AbouHabib Pour L’Industrie & L’Entreprise Pour L’Industrie & L’Entreprise (NAH)||2015||18||Lebanese Government|
|Construction of drinking water networks and systems in Batroun||Ministry of Power & Water||Geti||Copri Construction Entreprises (Kuwait)||2015||7||Lebanese Government + French Development Agency (AFD)|
|Electrical works in Batroun and Koura (on request)||E.D.L.||Electricité du Liban (E.D.L.)||Engineer Jean Mfarej||Mar-07||1.5||Electricité du Liban|
Table 1: Executed projects in Batroun Disctrict in recent years
2.2.1 Religious Tourism
Batroun district is considered a main global attraction for tourists who are interested in historical Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries and their outstanding architecture. Some of these churches and monasteries are:
This white-washed sandstone church was built in the 19th century, on the ruins of a Byzantine Church. It is located on the seashore near the Phoenician Wall
Located to the north of the harbor and recognized by its square towers, the stunning St. Estephan’s Cathedral was completed in the early 1900s by the Italian architect Giuseppe Maggiore. Just next to the St. Estephan’s Cathedral stands the beautiful domed 19th century (1867) Orthodox Church of St. George.
Figure 7: Miraculous Lady of the Sea Church & St. Estephan Church
A holy Greek Orthodox monastery, known as Deir El-Nourieh, stands at the top of a cliff overlooking the north coast of Lebanon. This monastery originated in the 17th century and was completed in the 19th century, and ever since, it has been known as an important pilgrimage site. The story behind its name is truly inspiring: it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to two sailors in the stormy sea and guided them gently with her light to the shore.
Known as the Monastery of ‘Mar Youssef Al Dahr’ at Jrabta, it is surrounded by ancient
trees and lies at the heart of a lonely region recognized for its beauty.
It is here that the Blessed Saint Rafqa is buried. Born on June 19, 1833, she entered the order of Maronite sisters at the age of 39, aspiring to total devotion to God. Her life was based on continuous prayers. She asked to share the passion of the Christ and this grace was accorded to her. She lived 29 years in the presence of God and died a saintly death in 1914 at age 81. Buried in the shaded convent garden, her saintliness was quickly manifested. Her remains were moved to the tomb in the church, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. On November 17, 1985, she was beatified by the Holy See.
The Monastery of Saint Cyprien and Justianian is situated in Kfifane village near Batroun. Today, it is a pilgrimage site thanks to the Blessed Nematallah Kassab Al Hardini, who is buried in this modest place. In 1766, the Lebanese Maronite Order transformed the monastery into a seminary dedicated to the study of theology, philosophy, literature, and law. Not only was Father Al Hardini among the students of this seminary, but also Charbel Makhlouf, who was canonized as a saint in 1989.
This monastery is one of the oldest in Lebanon and was built by Saint John Maron, Bishop of Batroun and Mount Lebanon in the year 685. Saint John Maroun used to live on the shore of the Assi River Orontes until he moved to the monastery of Kfarhay in 694. He brought the holy relic of the head of Saint Maron (from Mount Semaan near Hama in Syria) with him and kept it in the church of the monastery and it remained there until 1130. Due to these relics, the monastery was known as “Deir Rish Moran”, which in Syriac translates to “Land of Maron”. St. John Maron, the first Maronite Patriarch, lived in the monastery of Kfarhay until his death in the year 707 and he was buried there, but the location of his tomb was never found. In 1131, a Dominican monk of the congregation of St. Jacob took the saint's relics to Italy, where he built a church after his name. The Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Nasr Alla Butros Sfeir and Archbishop of Batroun, Youhanna Boulos Saade, put a lot of effort and then succeeded in bringing back the relics of Saint Maroun to Bkirke on the 8th of January 2000. Later, they were moved to Kfarhay. Four other patriarchs succeeded patriarch Yuhanna Maroun and lived in the Monastery of Kfarhay. It was damaged by the Mamelouk, then restored in 1787.
Figure 8: Covent of Saydet El-Nourieh– Hamat
Figure 10: Monastery of Saint Cyprien and Justinian – Kfifane
Figure 9: Sanctuary of Saint Rafqa – Jrabta
Figure 11: Deir Mar Youhanna Maroun – Kfarhay
2.2.2 Activities, Landmarks, Clubs and Restaurants
In addition to being a religious touristic spot, Batroun District is a destination targeting tourists who are interested in historical landmarks, amazing views, clubbing, food, wine, beer and of course lemonade.
Figure 12: Pierre and Friends Resto-Pub
Figure 13: Odd Rooftop Nightclub
Figure 14: Hilmi’s Lemonade
Figure 15: Batroun International Festival
Figure 16: Tannourine Cedar Forest
Figure 18: Hiking at Baloua Balaa
Figure 17: Windsurfing at Batroun Beaches
Figure 19: Hiking at Mseilha Walkway
In addition to the churches, monasteries, Mseilha Fort, and the Phoenician Wall, Batroun District is famous for its historical landmarks, which are considered a destination for visitors all over the world. Some of these landmarks are:
Figure 20: Phoenician Castle from the 9th Century BC
Figure 21: Old Souks from the 19th Century
Figure 22: Pond of the King’s Daughter
Figure 24: Douma’s Old Souks
Figure 23: Roman Theater
Figure 25: Douma’s Cinema
2.2.3 Honorable Quotes
In an interview with the governor of Beirut who’s originally from Douma, Batroun, Judge
Marwan Abboud, he states:
“Batroun District is the district of greeneries in Lebanon; it is still kind of a ‘virgin’ from an environmental and constructional point of view. It mainly consists of small villages, remarkably known for their old houses’ architecture. Batroun has always maintained its heritage and legacy for thousands of years. Batrounese are known for their kindness, generosity, and welleducational background. No political nor armed fights have ever happened within the premises of the city, as the district is one of the safest places in Lebanon. All the criteria prove that Batroun has a bright future, especially that there are still many areas that are yet to be discovered. We also can’t but mention how unique, beautiful, and historical the district is, with its wide selection of historical monasteries and churches.” He ended his declaration with this heart-warming statement: “Batroun is the only remaining district which truly represents the ‘Lebanon’ that we have always loved.”
In another interview with Mr. Marcelino Hark, the mayor of Batroun, he mentions the most outstanding feature that the city complies: “Batroun City is most famous for its infrastructure, especially the wastewater system which is a project that started in 2002. This project made Batroun the only city on the coast of Lebanon with 0% contaminated effluent discharged into the sea.” He says: “Batroun is known by its unique Old Souk built fully with sandstone. Batroun’s area is approximately 7,000,000 m², and is mostly dependent on tourism, due to the many beach resorts and hotels that offer luxury and a taste of the city’s community.” He states that the Batroun Project was launched in 1998, and its main goal was to improve the city’s infrastructure to provide an environmentally friendly destination for its citizens and its visitors.
CHAPTER 3 - Oil and Gas Sector
3.1 Lebanon’s Oil and Gas Sector
The first question that comes to mind is: Does Lebanon have oil and gas?
First, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report, which was conducted in March 2010, the Eastern Mediterranean Region has a high potential of having oil and gas. As estimated, 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil may be found in the Levant Basin province and 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Therefore, being a part of the province, Lebanon’s estimated riches are 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Figure 26: Levant Basin Province
3.2 Blocks 4 & 9
In 2018, an international consortium led by Total (Total 40%, ENI 40%, Novatek 20%) and the Lebanese government have signed two exploration and production agreements, covering Blocks 4 and 9 located offshore Lebanon, in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. These agreements lay down the drilling of at least one well per block in the first three years.
Figure 27: Lebanon’s Oil Blocks
On May 8, 2020, the Right Holder Operator completed the drilling campaign of the first exploration well ‘Byblos 16/1’ in Block 4 to a total depth of 4,076 meters from sea level, in water depths of approximately 1,500 meters.
Drilling activities in Block 4 started with the arrival of the Tungsten Explorer drillship on February 25, 2020. The well crossed the entire Oligo-Miocene target section, which was the main target of this exploration well, and it provided valuable information to be used in the further evaluation of the hydrocarbon potential offshore Lebanon. Traces of gas were found indicating the presence of a hydrocarbon system.
Based on the Probability of Success (POS), hitting a discovery from the first exploration well is less than 30%. Given this context, the exploration well represents a big step forward for Lebanon, which emphasizes Lebanon’s dedication to developing its promising offshore petroleum sector for the benefit of upcoming generations. Not to mention the threats and risks that the oil and gas sector holds, which is why continued efforts will be made to achieve the sector’s long-term goal.
In the coming period, The LPA will cooperate with public institutions and related stakeholders, including the Right Holder Operator, to conduct explorations in Lebanese waters. During the first exploration phase, the LPA will complete the preparatory tasks required to complete the drilling of the exploration well in Block 9 as stipulated in the Exploration and Production Agreement and in the Exploration Plan.
3.3 Block 4’s Current Status
Even though Lebanon’s first-ever exploration well, the Byblos-1 in Block 04 was dry, there is hope that further wells will show glimpses of oil, knowing that The Levantine Basin in the Eastern Mediterranean had produced some fantastic discoveries earlier, especially in the early days of the exploration – early 2010s – when Israel’s Leviathan and Egypt’s Zohr significantly boosted their respective economies.
CHAPTER 4 - Real Estate Study
4.1 Lebanon’s Real Estate History
The Lebanese property market is on the rise during these current circumstances. However, it was not the case a few years earlier as the industry faced many ups and downs.
The truth is, the stimulus of the influx of Gulf money in 2008-2010 still haunts the market. House prices in several areas of Lebanon doubled between 2008 and 2012, after the oil price surge. Now those high prices seem to be at risk.
Chart 1: Annual Property Price Change in % between 2009 and 2019
In 2018, demand sharply dropped. The number and value of property sales in Lebanon fell by 17.4% and 18.3%, respectively. In fact, sales to foreigners also dropped 11% in 2018 from a year earlier – an indication of declining interest from foreign homebuyers.
“Lebanon’s real estate market has witnessed a further slump this year in all its components, with overall demand decelerating in recent months in the currently prevailing regional and domestic environment,” said Bank Audi in 2018, and the construction activity remains down till now.
4.1.1 A History of Price Rises
The Lebanese property market witnessed average annual price rises of 18% (13% inflationadjusted) from 2009 to 2013, including a staggering 48.4% increase in 2009, before slowing sharply due to the regional political turmoil.
After falling by 12.3% (-11.7 inflation-adjusted) in 2014, property prices rose by an average of only 2% annually from 2015 to 2018. In fact, when adjusted for inflation, prices have been static in the past four years.
In 2018, property prices fell by 3.7% (-7.4% inflation-adjusted) from a year earlier
Table 2: Annual House Price Change
4.1.2 Property Sales Transactions
The number of property sales in Lebanon fell by 17.4% y-o-y to 60,714 units in 2018, according
to the Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre, and the value of property sales transactions
dropped by 18.3% y-o-y to USD 8.13 billion.
North Lebanon recorded the biggest sales decline of 31.7% during 2018, followed by Baabda (- 22.4%) and Metn (-22.1%), according to Bank Audi.
Chart 2: Real Estate Transactions between 2003 and 2018
4.1.3 Foreign Demand
Sales to foreigners fell by 11% to 1,214 transactions in 2018 from a year earlier – an indication of their declined interest in purchasing Lebanese property in the middle of a tough regional and domestic environment.
Chart 3: Foreigners Real Estate Transactions in a period of 10 years
Foreign homebuyers represented about 2% of total property transactions in 2018, a slightly bigger share of the market compared to the 1.85% in 2017 and 1.75% in 2016.
4.1.4 Lebanon’s Sluggish Economy
The economy expanded by a miniscule percentage of 0.25% in 2018, from y-o-y growth of
0.55% in 2017, 1.6% in 2016 and 0.4% in 2015. Prior to that, the economy had been growing by
an annual average of 2.4% for three years, with annual GDP growth of 2.7% in 2012, 2.6% in
2013 and 1.9% in 2014, according to the IMF.
Yet today, this industry has significantly grown as more people now prefer investing in this domain, which is the best solution for them to release their savings from banks which are offering 0% interests since 2020.
4.2 Market Analysis in Batroun District
Batroun district has seen many development projects, which is obvious because of its
infrastructure and tendency to become an eco-friendly touristic and investment hub. These
factors have also reflected on the district’s property prices that significantly increased in the last
Being established as one of the best touristic destinations in Lebanon, Batroun district has seen a huge growth in the construction industry which is shown in the graphs below.
Chart 4: New Building Licenses in Batroun District between 2009 and 2020
Chart 5: New Building Licenses in Batroun District between 2009 and 2020
Chart 6: Execution Order in Batroun District between 2009 and 2019
Chart 7: Execution Order in Batroun District between 2009 and 2019
These graphs show a huge downfall in new housing permits and execution orders since the year 2018 which is related to many factors.
Chart 8: Housing loans from 2004 till 2017
In January 2019, ‘Banque du Liban’ allocated LBP 790 billion (USD 522.5 million) for subsidized housing loans, after they have been suspended in July 2018. An amount of LBP 490 billion (USD 324.1 million) from the total amount was allocated to those who previously received approval for these loans before the program was suspended.
The previously mentioned factors have somehow also helped in the increase of the sales operations in Lebanon, as more people are looking to free their money from banks through investing in the real estate industry. This increase has also been reflected on Batroun district’s property sales as shown in the graph below.
Chart 9: Sales Operations in Batroun District between 2010 and 2020
4.3 SWOT Analysis
As SWOT analysis is a great assessment tool that shows all points of strength and weakness, opportunities and threats, here are all the points that can be mentioned.
CHAPTER 5 - Conclusion
Lebanon has been through many ups and downs throughout the years, yet Batroun was and will always be an economic powerhouse. Having lived in Batroun for over 24 years, I was always fascinated by the vision of the district’s leaders; their main aim was to make Batroun a unique and remarkable city. Today, this district is known as a main Lebanese point of attraction. Next to the many neighboring districts all around, Batroun really stands out for being the most welcoming, most environmentally friendly, and most safe. Being in this district makes people feel secure and away from all the troubles that are haunting the country. During these difficult times, being in Batroun is like being away on a vacation. As previously mentioned, it is a district that specializes in all types of tourism, not to mention the wide selection of the most traditional and spiritual monasteries and churches that make their visitors filled with hope and peace. The Batrounese’s friendly spirit attracts people and is extremely contagious, which is why Batroun lands constantly witness a huge flow of tourists from all over Lebanon, coming in to explore the city’s history and culture, and they all feel attached to the city and decide to stay in for weeks. Not to mention that, on a daily basis, foreign tourists roam around in the streets of Batroun and sit in every corner of the old souk. It is indeed a district of pure beauty and attraction.
On another note, as Block 4 extends from Beirut to Tripoli shores, Batroun has a strategic location and will play a huge role in this field, in the coming years. Today, Batroun is considered a destination for foreigners around the world. Therefore, in the future, when Lebanon starts extracting oil from the sea, foreign experts and international companies will start searching for an environment where diversity is accepted, and for a virgin area to centralize their businesses in. In their search for the mentioned city, they will have two options, either Batroun or Jbeil. Yet, Batroun does have an additional point of attraction, which is the real estate prices in the region. This will put Batroun at the top of the list for international investors, who are willing to invest in offices in the city, making it the headquarter of their businesses. Batroun will be considered a business hub since it is a growing city. It is also an attraction for the banking sector, which qualifies the city to be a base for foreign companies. So, the future looks bright for this hopeful district, and hopefully soon with the development of the oil and gas sector and the decrease of aircraft restrictions, Batroun will be the number one district in the country.
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