Jieh

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Jieh
الجية
City
Jieh coastline
Jieh coastline
Map showing the location of Jieh within Lebanon
Map showing the location of Jieh within Lebanon
Jieh
Location within Lebanon
Coordinates: 33°39′56.51″N 35°25′36.46″E / 33.6656972°N 35.4267944°E / 33.6656972; 35.4267944Coordinates: 33°39′56.51″N 35°25′36.46″E / 33.6656972°N 35.4267944°E / 33.6656972; 35.4267944
Country  Lebanon
Governorate Mount Lebanon Governorate
District Chouf District
Government
 • Mayor Dr Georges Nader El-Azzi
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Dialing code +961

Jieh (or Jiyé, Jiyeh, الجية) is a seaside town in Lebanon with an estimated population of 5000[1], 23 km south of Beirut, in the Chouf district via a 20 minute drive along the Beirut to Sidon highway south of the capital. In Phoenician times it was known as Porphyreon and was a thriving natural seaport, which still functions today. The town is also known for its seven kilometre sandy beach, a rarity along Lebanon's mainly rocky coastline.

The Hebrew prophet Jonah was said to have landed on its shores when he was spat out of the giant fish described in the Old Testament, and a temple was built which stands until today.[2] Many invaders passed through Porphyreon such as Tohomtmos the Egyptian who landed his soldiers on its natural seaport in order to fight the North. Alexander the Great relaxed on its shore preparing for the attack on Tyre. St Peter and St Paul also walked through Jieh several times.[3]

In modern times Jieh took some of the harshest blows of the Lebanese Civil War that raged from 1975-1990. Being a coastal town made it vulnerable to the countless numbers of Palestine Liberation Organization raids on the area, as well as Israeli army invasions during the 1980s, [4] but the worst being on January 20, 1976.[5] Jieh is being rebuilt, albeit at a slower pace than the nearby capital city of Beirut.

Archaeology[edit]

The town houses some of Lebanon's finest archaeological ruins, some of them buried under modern buildings, others waiting to be dug up by excavators, and others having already been removed and placed in museums. Mosaics depicting the story of the Prophet Jonah and the giant fish in the Old Testament have been found in churches dug from underground over time[6]. Examples of these are the grand floor mosaics from the Byzantine Empire period which were so big that trucks were needed to transport them to museums as was the case with the fine collection owned by Walid Jumblatt, a local politician, which are on display at his Beiteddine museum. Jieh has recently been the scene of accidental excavations of a Byzantine era Christian church and surrounding tombs which had been buried underground for centuries. Nothing is being done to protect them at the moment due to political hearings on the matters of the people versus the government - sec. landlords rights to preserve historical artifacts found on said property with vialble direct ancestry value and or documentation. The people versus the government - sec. landlords rights to preserve historical artifacts found on said property which directly pertain to all local populous religious beliefs, practices, and or scriptures or text. All which fall under the world preservation of historical and archaeological acts of 1971.


Ruins of Christian basilica
Doorway at the ruins
Ruins of multicultural settlements

Religion[edit]

Jieh is home to many religious groups, mostly Maronite Christians and Shiite Muslims with some Melkites, and Sunni Muslims. The Shiite Muslims of this area mainly occupy the high rise section of Nabi Younes (Prophet Jonah) located in the central western and southern parts of the town on the coast. While the northern and central eastern area is occupied by the Christian and Sunni populous in the section of St. George's and Our Lady of the Star's Cathedrals. The rebuilding of Jieh's two churches took effect a few years after the civil war ended during the construction boom. On the left below is Our Lady of the Star, Maronite Catholic Church undergoing reconstruction, as well as the new St Georges Church featured to the right.

Many Christian families who fled the town of Jieh have sent money back to rebuild Our Lady of the Star, which still needs $1million to complete. The rebuilding of St George's has also begun. While the original Mousque of the town built directly over the tomb of the Nabi Younes to safe-guard the tomb, built around a century ago by the El Hajj family (one of the predominate Shiite families in the village) still lies in ruins due to a dispute between Shiite and Sunni factions on the placement and erection of the new facility.

This has caused great strifes between all religious denominations in the region. More now than ever since Hezbollah stepped into the middle of the dispute and erected a Shiite based mosque without finding a common ground between both Muslim parties and the consent on placement of the facility with the Christian denominations in the area to confirm that the volumous call to prayers would not be a hindrance upon their religious practices.

Jieh Scenic View, 2003.
Our Lady of the Star Maronite Catholic Church under construction, November 2006.
Our Lady of the Star Maronite Catholic Church
St Georges Maronite Catholic Church under construction, Dec 2007

On the 28th of October, 2010, the St Georges Catholic Cemetery was the subject of a vicious attack by graveyard vandals. An exhumed body in the lone casket of one of the tombs was removed, dragged out of its resting place and disfigured.[7]

Tourism[edit]

Bamboo Bay










Jieh's main tourist attraction is its 7km sand strip hosting a set of clean sandy beaches. Close to Beirut and still clean to swim in, Jieh is a go-to destination for beach lovers who like the sand, the sun, and some waves away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The mainly privately owned beach resorts that occupy the beach front range in themes that cater for all classes of society, including women's only beaches.[8]

Education[edit]

St Charbel College

Jieh is a town that houses the popular St Charbel College. The convent of Saint Charbel and the attached High School are run by the Lebanese Maronite Order of monks. It is the direct result of repeated demands by the local residents and two decades of planning and negotiations. Construction was completed in 1965. The mission of this project was to provide education to students of different faiths from Jieh and neighboring villages in the Chouf district south of Beirut. The convent and school were lightly damaged during the 1975 war and then evacuated in 1985 when the Christian population of the town was forced out. This time the structure sustained heavy damages and for the next six years became a living quarter for Palestinian refugees. Renovations started in 1991 after generous contributions from charitable organizations, local politicians and residents. As soon as the work was completed, 600 students enrolled of whom only 18 were Christians. Today both the convent and the school are fully restored and became a center of culture and education for students from the southern suburbs of Beirut to Sidon. [9]

Power[edit]

Jieh is home to Lebanon's largest and oldest thermal power plant. Located on the southern tip of Jieh's border with neighbouring town Wadi El Zeina, this power station houses 5 units; the first two Toshiba units having been installed in 1970, while the three remaining turbines from the Brown Boveri Company in Switzerland were put into service later on between 1980 and 1981. The Toshiba units produce 65MW while the Brown Boveri Company (BBC) units each produce 72MW of electricity, totalling 346MW for the Jieh plant when at full capacity. Although this is only the second highest total capacity after Zouk from Lebanon's 7 thermal power plants, it must be commended for being the first and only one from during the 1970s and mid 1980s until the first unit at Zouk was put into service in 1984.

Gas station, Power Plant and wharf in the distance

The power station at Jieh was closed for a period after the Israeli invasion in 1982, and so technicians who came to repair the older Toshiba turbines were deterred away from the country due to kidnappings of foreigners and the raging of the civil war. Likewise, the three Brown Boveri turbines had managed to get some service from BBC's India technicians rather than from the Switzerland headquarters. This meant that only minor repairs could be done, and so the generators could not run at full capacity. In 1982, the Lebanese Pound fell by a factor of 600 and so Electricite du Liban, Lebanon's government owned power company, could not afford to buy spare parts from overseas for its power stations. Hundreds of communities and ghettos across the country also refused (and still refuse) to pay electricity bills that funded the maintenance. This, as well as significant electricity piracy, resulted in deteriorating conditions of the power plant at Jieh.

Smoke rising from the Jieh Power Station in the early hours of the morning straight after a missile attack on Friday July 14th, 2006.

Foreign investment, however, helped revive the plant numerous times until presently, although today the main problem is the lack of adequate fuel supply from the government that is needed to run the plant. Recent deals with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf have been sought to receive discounted fuel to ensure good supply to the power plants.[10] According to current news articles, Jieh's power plant is undergoing extensive maintenance due to neighbouring Syria's recent cut of power supply to parts of Lebanon, meaning that the Jieh plant is on its way to full service again.[11]

The recent July 2006 war between the Hezbollah and the Israeli Defence Forces resulted in the fuel stores at the power plant being bombed, leading to a catastrophic environmental disaster with crude oil spilling into the sea. On Friday July 14 at around 3am, the Jieh power plant was struck by missiles from navy destroyers off the Lebanese coast aimed at one of its six fuel tanks. It was hit once more the next day when two bridges on the main highway in Jieh were also destroyed by missile attacks. Ongoing black smoke continued to rise from the plant for weeks after the attack as the nearby tankers exploded one after the other from the heat while the remaining tens of thousands of litres of oil spilled endlessly into the Mediterranean sea.

Environmental Problems[edit]

As a result of crude violations of the environment directly by the council of Barja up in the nearby mountains, the Jieh coastline has been subject to the continual release of unclean water through the Barja to Jieh sewerage canal. This canal routinely dumps Barja's human faeces and other liquid waste into Jieh's coastal waters and directly affects tourism and the environment in this town. There have also recently been plans to build a landfill in Jiyyeh.[12] This has met some hard opposition by some government ministers and angry locals who don't want their town being turned into a garbage dump, and so at the moment the solution to the problem is not quite clear. [13]

Jiyeh Power Station Oil Spill[edit]

The power station oil spill from a July 14-15th Israeli airstrike has released over 16,000 tonnes of crude oil into the Mediterranean sea and has threatened marine life along the coast of Lebanon, mainly from Jieh stretching as far north as Syria and Turkey. For more recent information and photos on the oil spill and the clean-up efforts, please take a look at the websites: http://www.unep.org/lebanon/ and http://www.planet2025news.net/lebanonoilspill.rxml

Jieh Sub-districts[edit]

Jieh is divided locally into sub districts namely: Taht el Chir, Beit Madi, Beit Chahine, Haret el Kaneese, Qassouba, Nabi Younes, El Sahl & Maqsabe.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Azzi, C., Technical Opinion On the proposed Landfill
  2. ^ Azzi, A., Jieh Through history Atallah Family Website
  3. ^ United Nations General Assembly Security Council, Letter dated 5 January 1988 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General
  4. ^ Jieh Online, 30 Year Anniversary
  5. ^ The story of the Prophet Jonah and the giant fish
  6. ^ Pictures of Byzantine church excavations, Dec 2004
  7. ^ Bamboo Bay Jieh, 360° Panoramic View
  8. ^ $8 million new resort near Beirut - 5/20/2005
  9. ^ College St Charbel (French)
  10. ^ Electricite du Liban information about Lebanon's power plants
  11. ^ Lebanese ration power after Syria cuts off supplies
  12. ^ Daily Star Article: 'Lebanon will drown in solid waste'
  13. ^ Greenpeace "Right To Know" tour calls for a toxics use and release inventory on chemical-use by industries in Lebanon
  14. ^ Grave robbers raid cemetery in Jiyeh

References[edit]