Roi Saade | The Epic of Dalieh
Country of origin: Lebanon
Project location: Lebanon
Program: Arab Documentary Photography Program
In Beirut, Dalieh is the city’s last natural outcrop and shared space, where the public can freely access the coastline for their own recreational purposes. But today, this last remaining informal space is on the edge of disappearing as the land is given over to big developers with plans for a private resort.
In my search of how to tell its story, I found parallels in the epic poem “Dionysiaca,” written by Nonnus of Panopolis in the 5th century.
Beroë, the goddess-nymph representing the city of Beirut in Phoenicia (modern Lebanon), was wooed by two gods, Dionysos and Poseidon, and became the object of a fierce fight between them. In their fight for the conquest of Beroë, both Gods unleash their wrath, regardless of the damage and destruction they bring down on nature. In many ways, this story is an allegory for what is happening to Dalieh. I use the mythology as a narrative tool for addressing the rapid development of one of Beirut’s last public spaces, and for examining the relationship between society and nature. This project has lead to a series of experiments, supernatural events and an open-ended conversation with nature.