Unchaining Beirut Central District. Public-private sectors unite to revive commercial center

Unchaining Beirut
Central District
Public-private sectors unite

to revive commercial center

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Speaker Nabih Berry recently announced the lifting of the security barricade surrounding Nejmeh Square that locks off key commercial streets in Beirut Central District.

The private sector has welcomed the initiative that was driven by Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s successful New Year’s Eve party in Nejmeh Square. The party brought together over 15,000 spectators and attracted international acclaim.

Both the private and public sectors have started devising measures to bring back the shop owners who deserted the commercial downtown in 2015 due to consecutive protests, when entrances leading to the Parliament were closed off.

Nicolas Chammas, Chairman of the Beirut Traders Association, said: “We have been asking for this for so long. We hope this will revive the BCD as a destination for shopping.” Chammas said that the positive momentum spearheaded by the public sector, and championed by the private sector, should keep moving forward.

“We place all our resources to help this positive movement, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture in Beirut and Mount Lebanon,” he said.

Over 1,350 institutions have closed their shops in the past five years, according to the Chamber.

Mohammed Choucair, Chairman of the Chamber, said that a committee has been formed under the direction of Hariri to look into possible incentives that might encourage tenants to return.

“We will talk to property owners, from Islamic Waqf to Solidere and other investors to exempt tenants from operational fees for a certain period of time so that they can compensate their losses and make new investments,” he said.

Mohammad Said Fatha, member of the Beirut municipal board, said that regular meetings will take place, starting Thursday, to examine the suggested incentives.

Fatha said: “We are contacting property owners to see if they can exempt tenants from rent for the next two years. We are considering an exemption from the annual municipal fees as well.”

Streets that had witnessed strict security measures include Maarad, Weygand , Banks, Riad el Solh, and Martyrs Square.

Choucair, who is a member of the committee, said: “We are confident that this year we will be able to compensate all what we have lost in the past. People will come back.”
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
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Date Posted: Jan 04, 2018