Under French colonization, land surveys and registration led to a clear identification of individual real estate ownership in the majority of Lebanese regions, with the exception of the Baalbek – Hermel governorate, which today consists mostly of lands under joint ownership or under non-real estate management.
Over time, this region began witnessing a clash between the concept of shared ownership’s social practices on the one hand, and the use of land in accordance with modern official frameworks that regulate ownership, planning and urbanization on the other. As such, and in the face of a number of setbacks that have emerged over the years, in addition to the overall adherence to the concept of individual ownership in the collective communal imagination, demands to parcelate the lands increased, to which the 1997 Council of Ministers responded by allocating a portion of the government’s budget to launch a general “parcellation project” for the regions of Younine, al-Qaa and Al Hermel.
Since then, each of the consequent elected local parliament members and government ministers have appended the parcelation project to their agendas, including the aforementioned law proposal.
In a sense, the statements of the local members of parliament and the foundations of the law -which provide for “protecting individual property and stimulating the economic conditions and development in the most marginalized regions”- embody the crux of the problem: the law and its sponsors believe that allowing real estate speculation and the construction sector to flourish by demarcating properties and parcellating the land lots of the region, will solve the underlying chronic economic problems!
In reality, however, addressing the systematic marginalization and deprivation in this region requires developing policies that protect the social and agricultural value of the land, rather than opening it up to the speculative real estate market. Northern Bekaa is an agricultural realm par excellence, which derives its significance from the abundance of natural resources and productive assets in its territory.