Douma to start $2.68-mln renovation of souq
Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, May 15, 2010
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DOUMA: The inhabitants of the northern village of Douma, known for its locally produced olive oil and summer festivals, are preparing for a long-awaited renovation of their traditional souq.
The project is expected to cost $2.68 million, to be secured from foreign resources, while the task of refurbishing the site will be shouldered by the Council of Development and Reconstruction (CDR).
In 1996, the mountainous location of Batroun was crowned the most beautiful Lebanese village by the Tourism Ministry. Douma’s ancient souq has more than 125 stores and shops, as well as a cinema and a theater.
After its earlier status as one of the country’s leading commercial markets, the site is only used nowadays to display local products during festivals held in the village.
The Cabinet endorsed on the renovation project in March, following a proposal made by Douma’s municipality to the Interior Ministry. The request was forwarded along with a detailed study about the project prepared upon the request of the village’s former mayor, Hanna Ayoub.
Mazen Abboud, an engineer from the town, has written a book about Douma and its famed souq, entitled “ Douma, the Story of an Oriental town.”
In it, Abboud pays tribute to Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud for securing sufficient funds to perform the task, and notes the interest of the head of the CDR, Nabil Jisr, in the project.
He also thanks Douma’s current mayor, Joseph Khairallah Maalouf, for his role in overseeing the initiative.
Maalouf said that in the previous two years, Douma has hosted between 3,000 and 5,000 tourists during the summer months, adding that this number might increase dramatically after restoring the market and promoting it to tourists.
Maalouf said the renovation project would combat rural-urban migration in the town, which has a core population of only several hundred people.
“If we work on supporting the 50 [extended] families who own the shops of the historical souq, we will prevent them from moving to the coast on one hand, and we contribute to achieving administrative decentralization on another.”
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(The Daily Star: Lebanon News: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)