The Floating Island Of Lebanon
By: Nana Osei / Arab America Contributing Writer
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your own Island? Have you ever wondered how it even feels to be on a floating island? What if I told you that once there was a chance to have this experience? Between the 1980s to the early 2000s, there was a dream to create the first floating island in Jounieh, Lebanon. However, this dream came to a stop at the worst moment. Here is the story of the Floating Island of Lebanon.
Abdullah Daou: The Founder
Dr. Abdullah Daou was the one who first came up with the dream for the floating island. Without him, this monumental project would never have been started in the first place. Dr. Abdullah Daou was born in Lebanon in the year 1952. From an early age, he was exposed to the engineering industry because of his father. His father worked in the trading and manufacturing of building materials.
Dr. Abdullah Daou went to the Universal College at Aley and the Lebanese University. After that, in 1976, he went to Kuwait and created his own contracting business which received high recognition among international companies. In the year 1982, Dr. Darou first started forming the idea to create a floating island within his head.
Dr. Abdullah Daou went on to do self-supported individual research. He researched marine engineering and how to create advanced structures with composites of fiberglass and steel. He did this for over 15 years from 1982 to 1997!
The Process Starts
In 1998 Dr. Dauo and his team made the first prototype of the project. The official name became the Advanced Engineering Dhow 4 as that was the engineering method it was based on. However, for commercial purposes, it was known as the Jounieh Floating Island Resort (JFIR). The prototype was at a scale of 1:10 compared to how large the actual Floating Island was meant to be. The Floating Island prototype even floated successfully when putting into the sea. This was a great breakthrough for Dr. Dauo and his small team of engineers as it gave them hope for the future. They were watching the prototype they had researched for 15 years showing they were making true progress.
In 2003, Dr. Dauo established the Beirut International Marine Industry & Commerce with his family. This includes his wife, Nawal Shehayeb Daou, and also his two children, civil engineer Sumer Daou and architect Soir Daou. It currently has a capital of 300,000,000 LBP with over 400 highly skilled engineers of different fields and marine scientists. The goal of Beirut International is to create a floating Islands, multihull vessels, and Fiberglass Houses.
In 2005, a catamaran prototype was created and launched at Dr. Talal Al Shair’s company, Shairco Factories in Yanbuh KSA. It was at a scale of 12m x5m x 5.3m and was a success. Dr. Talal Bin Ali Al Shair who was a prominent industrialist of the Middle East decided to give a gracious investment in Beirut international.
Also, the French Marine Society, known as Bureau Veritas, gave the first application of the Advanced Engineering of the Floating Island Dhow 4 recognition on June 29th, 2005.
At the beginning of 2012, Beirut International started increasing its infrastructure with new work sites in order to fully make the Jounieh Floating Island a reality. In 2014 Beirut Internationals boasted that they were coming to a conclusion to their project very soon. The Jounieh Floating Island would launch. At this point, Dr. Abdullah Daou felt that his dream of launching the world’s first floating island would become a reality.
Why it Failed
Although it looked like Dr. Abdullah Daou’s dream was to become a reality, it soon ceased to exist. In 2014, the floating island was soon to be completed in Jounieh bay. However, the mayor, Antoine Frem, told municipality officials to reject the project and take away permission as it was incompatible with the bay and its people. In an interview with the Daily Star Mayor Frem stated, “A project of this caliber needs to be constructed in an area that does not have a dense population.” Mayor Frem also voiced environmental concerns about how they still didn’t know how the floating island would manage its waste.
Interestingly, Dr. Daou said that Beruit International actually had been given permission by the municipality officials a few years ago. However, he received permission when Juan Hebich the previous mayor to Frem was in office. When Frem became Mayor in 2010 he revoked the permission. Frem reasoning was that the Prime Minister had made a decree stating that all construction permits issued before he took office to be canceled. Dr. Daou did not agree with this so he continued to construct his floating island until his work was restrained by authorities from reaching water in 2014. He stated before saying, “We have legal permission to construct the floating island and we do not work unless [in line] with Lebanese law”.
Currently, Beruit International still insists that they are working on the floating island, however, the last announcement I could find on this was made in 2017. Sadly, we must assume the dream is over until further information.
What Was The Floating Island Supposed to Be?
Here is a video of what the floating island was meant to be in all its grandeur. It was going to be a 5-star luxury hotel with over 132 rooms and 76 underwater studios. It would even have a club, a pool, a roof restaurant, and aqua sports activities.
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