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Atlas of Lebanon

Part 4 - Intense Urbanization

Land Dynamics in Beirut: Towers and Gentrification

Vicken Ashkarian et Christine Moujahed

Texte intégral

1Since the end of the war, the Lebanese economy has been increasingly marked by the importance of rents, supported by consumerism, external subsidies and capital flows. The country’s economic policy being focused on reconstruction and macroeconomic stabilization, these assets have been invested in short-term banking deposit, as well as in land and real estate, thus fueling consumption and contributing to the upsurge in land prices.

2After a short period of recession between 1998 and 2000, the real estate market was dynamic again until 2008, a year marked by the peak in the prices per sq. m recorded in Beirut. Despite the slump characterizing 2005 and 2006, which followed the assassination of R. Hariri and the 2006 war, real estate investments did not stop. Demand was sustained by a favorable economic situation: the immunity of the banking sector, always supported by the Central Bank, a stable and promising political context after the Doha Agreement, and a strong demand from external actors (often Lebanese expatriates and nationals from the Gulf countries). This translated into a tremendous rise in prices. Thus, from 2007 to 2008, the prices of land plots and apartments respectively increased by 15 to 25% and 15 to 35%. After 2008, the market entered a period marked by saturation, visible in the decline of the recorded surface areas. This stagnation went on as the war in Syria started: the recorded surface areas decreased until 2014. However, despite the stagnation of the real estate market, prices have remained relatively high. In 2013, Lebanon was ranked third among Middle-Eastern countries for real estate prices, after Israel and the United Arab Emirates. While the average price in Beirut amounted to 2,000 US$ in 2008, it reached 4,300 US$ in 2014. The city center and seafront constituted an exception on the market, with prices over 7,000 US$ per sq. m.

Figure IV-12: Surface areas recorded in building permits (2000-2014)

Figure IV-12: Surface areas recorded in building permits (2000-2014)

Figure IV-13: Implantation of towers and land prices in Beirut in 2014

Figure IV-13: Implantation of towers and land prices in Beirut in 2014

3The land dynamics have generated changes in Beirut’s urban fabric. Thus, the physical transformations of the built structure (demolition of ancient houses, construction of towers, transformation in the skyline) have come along social mutations (renewal in the population, development of new economic activities, etc.). This phenomenon, called gentrification, can be illustrated by two examples: Furn el-Hayek (residential gentrification) and Mar Mikhael (gentrification of a commercial area).

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure IV-12: Surface areas recorded in building permits (2000-2014)
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13262/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 55k
Titre Figure IV-13: Implantation of towers and land prices in Beirut in 2014
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13262/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 116k
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13262/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 252k

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