Lebanon has been on a roll this year in holding a variety of festivals that seek to disseminate the spirit of creativity and raise awareness on certain local and global issues, from aquatic festivals to music festivals. According to 961 a fun festival for marine and aquatic sports will be held for the first time in Tripoli, the capital of northern Lebanon, and will feature a number of aquatic challenges, tournaments, and games like swimming, kitesurfing, parasailing, and water polo. The festival will be titled “Tripoli Mina Touristic Marine Festival” and will take place for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 3, at Rabbit Island, also known as Palm Island Nature Reserve. Besides sports activities, there will be musical entertainment, cultural exhibitions, and Media coverage. Many TV channels like LBC International, New TV, and Al Hourra Reuters will be present as the activities will start at 11:00 am and will last till 5:00 pm.
To get more insight, we spoke with Nabil Aouad, co-founder of SWIM (Sustainable Waste Intercity Marathon). When we asked about why the event is free, Aoudad said that, “free is an expensive statement as it comes with the responsibility of ownership what we want to emphasize is that the sea and its beaches belong to all and they have to be preserved.” Expenses will simply be for the trip to Palm Island from the Mina Port, which takes about 40 minutes.
Nabil Aouad, co-founder of SWIM Lebanon
Although it is a reserved island and meant to be a sanctuary for migrating birds, both municipalities of Tripoli and Mina decided to have their festival on the island to shed light on its importance and raise awareness of the uniqueness of Palm Island as a national treasure to be preserved and taken care of.
Aouad expressed that this year the aquatic games are a pilot event and will be managed by @swiminitiative to test the waters and the public and the activities and plan are summarized in the attached presentation. Moreover, he asserted that he recognized and seized the chance to create a swim challenge program as well in the early hours of the morning to circle the island with about 30 other open water enthusiasts from all over Lebanon.
Aouad was keen to highlight that “we should not forget the environmental aspect of this event where we will throughout this week have a 4-day clean up of the island before the event to encourage environmental awareness and the preservation of the reserve’s unique and rich ecosystem.” Furthermore, he added that they are, ‘expecting that the number of visitors to the event will be over 1000 adding to that the number of some 150 organizers and athletes.”
Palm Island is also known as Rabbits Island for a variety of reasons, according to Plus 961, the name comes from the huge numbers of rabbits that were grown on the island during the French mandate early in the 20th century. Additionally, a wide range of activities, including swimming in the island’s crystal-clear water as well as bird watching, hiking, guided tours, snorkeling, and diving, which typically require a permit, may be done on the island.
Interestingly the Royal Wedding took place on the Island where the Crusaders built a church and It was there that Queen “Alice of Cyprus” came in 1224 to marry Prince “Bohemond V of Antioch”. The Royal wedding took place in this church that was dedicated to St. Thomas and to this day, you can still see the ruins of the church if you walk toward the rocky side of the island.
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