With ENSERES support, the spring of Ras al-Ain in Tyre will be preserved from exploitation and enhanced as a model of sustainable tourism


"Our challenge is to free the Ras al-Ain site from indiscriminate exploitation, to show its tourism potential and the role it could play in the sustainable development of the Tyre region within the nature reserve". Soumaya Ayadi, founder of ACE (Association for the Community and the Environment) thus explains the objectives of the project "Enhancement of the geo-tourist potential of the Ras al-Ain site in Tyre", one of the beneficiaries of the subgrants made available by ENSERES in Lebanon.

Ras al-Ain is a miraculous spring that has been supplying water to the centre of Tyre for millennia through its fountains, wells and over six kilometres of aqueduct. Discovered in Phoenician times, the spring water was then channelled and made more usable by the Romans. Even today it is possible to appreciate the exceptional strength and beauty of the pipelines, which for a short distance still take part in the city's water system. An engineering work of extraordinary avant-garde, a precious archaeological asset that time and neglect have nevertheless ended up wearing down. Knowledge of the environmental and artistic value of the site has been lost, and this in turn has allowed some private individuals to threaten the site with the possibility of new constructions. "We realized the danger, and we immediately decided to fight to prevent the 'rights' of real estate development, certainly the interest of a few, from stealing a good from the community", Ayadi says.

The ACE’s project envisages the gathering of all the scientific material concerning Ras al-Ain, activity which will be accompanied by field surveys and meetings with all local stakeholders. A geological and hydrogeological study will then allow a better knowledge of the territory and the definition of a clear cartography. The entire study will then be used for the preparation of communication materials that will support an awareness campaign aimed at the local population, the stakeholders and all visitors. Information panels, with scientific and didactic content, will be developed and placed in strategic points of the site. A strategy capable of enhancing artesian water sources, implementing protection of fresh water and fighting against pollution and climate change will be also proposed.

Established only in 2014, ACE can already boast numerous interventions to protect the cultural and environmental heritage of the territory, in particular in the sectors of geo-conservation, waste collection and recycling, in the development of rural areas and in the enhancement of green spaces. Soumaya Ayadi explains: “Our team of experts has been working for years to strengthen the resilience and identity of communities through projects related to natural and cultural heritage. We provide scientific basis for decision-making processes, so that they can contribute to the management of Lebanon's natural and cultural resources. For decades Tyre has suffered from anthropogenic pressure, which is exerted in many different ways. We are convinced that the Ras al-Ain enhancement project can make a decisive contribution to the sustainable development of Tyre and its Nature Reserve”.