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World

Foreign firms vie to rebuild ravaged Beirut port

  • Former colonial power France has also been positioning itself to take on the port's reconstruction.
14 Apr 2021

BEIRUT: Eight months after a massive blast ripped through Beirut port and nearby districts of the Lebanese capital, a host of foreign companies with different national interests are competing to rebuild it.

"Everyone has their eyes on the port: the Russians, the Chinese, the Turks, the French and now the Germans," interim port director Bassem al-Kaissi said.

"But for the moment these are only declarations of intent."

The August 4 explosion of hundreds of tonnes of ill-stored fertilisers devastated the dockside and large swathes of the capital, killing more than 200 people.

A German delegation last Friday unveiled a spectacular $30-billion project to rebuild the port and adjacent areas, in the presence of their ambassador.

The ambitious plan, drawn up by companies including Hamburg Port Consulting, seeks to move the port east, and remodel the nearby area to include social housing, a "central park" and even beaches.

Former colonial power France has also been positioning itself to take on the port's reconstruction.

When French President Emmanuel Macron made a second visit to Beirut in September after the monster explosion, the Lebanese-born head of French shipping giant CMA-CGM, Rodolphe Saade, was in his delegation.

During the trip, his company presented Lebanon with a three-phase project to rebuild, expand and modernise the seaside location to become a "smart port", its regional director Joe Dakkak told AFP.