Urbanism and Law: Master-planning in Lebanon and its Impact on People and Places

العمران في لبنان: التصاميم التوجيهية وتأثيرها على الحياة اليومية
July 2017 - June 2018

Over the past decade, many urban geographers engaged with the relation between law and geography, in an attempt to clarify the connections between these two increasingly complex concepts. In Lebanon, law has often been seen as a process that is devoid of a social dimension. In fact, it has been reduced to how the political class influences legislations, which has had a deep impact on planning and urban development. In this project, we studied the practice of urban planning in Lebanon, the mechanisms that produce masterplans, and the ways in which they replicate existing inequalities and maintain the dominance of the privileged over the landscape


Research Direction and Design: Public Works Studio (Abir Saksouk, Nadine Bekdache, Monica Basbous)

Legal Research: Legal Agenda (Karim Nammour, Nizar Saghieh, Jassem Chahine, Aya Farhat)

Data Analysis and Fieldwork in Baakline, Debiyyeh, Adloun, Chabriha: Jana Haidar

Fieldwork in Nabatiyye, Dbayyeh, Damour, Zouk Mkayel, Hsoun: Tala Alaeddine

Fieldwork in Chekka, Kousba, Zgharta, Mina: Maissa Kassir

Illustrations: Imad Kaafarani

Video: Majd Al Hamwi


مؤسسة فورد


هدى حبيش، هكذا تغيّرت مدن لبنان وقراه.. ساحلاً وجبلاً، جريدة المدن، 30-6-2018

فيفيان عقيقي، التنظيم الطبقي للأراضي اللبنانية، ملحق رأس المال في جريدة الأخبار، 2-7-2018
إيلده غصين، التنظيم المدني في لبنان: أداة لإنتاج اللامساواة، جريدة الأخيار، 20-6-2018

Samir Moukhayber, L’aménagement du territoire au Liban, source d’inégalités, L'Orient Le Jour, 2-7-2018

A review of the urban planning law in Lebanon underscores the absence of any mention of the concept of participation in master-planning, which reinforces the pure administrative and technocratic practice, and contributes to the proliferation of different forms of corruption, including favoritism and clientelism. On another level, exploring a database of all master plans issued by the Directorate General of Urban Planning from 1954 to date allowed us to draw lessons on the practice of planning. We drew a map of planned regions in Lebanon, and deducted that unplanned areas today in Lebanon account for 85% of the Lebanese territory. These are arbitrarily neglected, as they have several partial plans, and are subjected to a multitude of illegal decisions. We also drew a timeline of the areas that were planned for the first time. We found that there was a huge discrepancy between the activity of the DGU in planning areas before and after the Civil War. We also found that the National Lebanese Physical Masterplan was completely ignored, which allows for the misuse of authority on the local level.

Additionally, looked critically at land use maps in 15 cities and villages across Lebanon: Zgharta, Mina, Chekka, Hsoun, Kousba, Berbara, Zouk Mkayel, Dbayyeh, Damour, Debiyyeh, Baakline, Adloun, Abasiyye, Nabatiyye, Qana. In all these cases, we witnessed how factors such as law, property, identity and interests contributed to displacing people's imagination, social fabric, livelihoods, and sometime entire neighborhoods.