Passersby of the seafront promenade of Saida are noticing structures of old retired aircraft and out-of-service vehicles, laying next to the water.
They take photographs and ask curiously about the origin and reason why these things are put up in that place.
No, it is not a simple junkyard or aircraft cemetery. The surprising answer is the preparation of an underwater park, near the only island remaining of the sunken Old City of Sidon: Al Zira.
Al Zira Island is considered to be a long rock that extends over a distance of about 500 meters, and it is around 600 meters away from the city’s shore. It is one of the only remaining landmarks of historic Sidon, the famous Phoenician city of our ancestors.
A beach was created on Al Zira in June of 2016 – Sand was moved from the seafloor to the island.
The island is still clean, unharmed, and unpolluted. It is approximately 10 minutes away from Saida shores and water taxi services can offer you the ride for only 3 000 LBP.
It is true that pollution in Lebanon has taken its toll, especially when it comes to the Mediterranean sea and its marine life. But a glimmer of hope still exists.
After the horrible crimes committed against nature in Saida, the association of professional divers in Lebanon, The Friends of Al-Zira Island association, and the Lebanese Army planned to build the region’s largest underwater ‘garden.’
The planes that will be sunk, along with the other military vehicles that have been submerged last July, will help restore balance to marine life, enrich coral reefs and raise environmental awareness.