Sama Beirut was among the sponsors of Achrafieh 2020’s “Discover Sodeco Abdel Wahab” car free event on Sunday, the 26th of October. We decided to check it out. We didn’t regret it.
We started out at Sodeco. The large street was almost unrecognisable. Musicians were warming up on a stage with a heavy sound of bass pumping from the speakers in anticipation. People were all around, enjoying the space created by the pedestrian zoning of the street for the day. We are so used to this street being full of cars, people usually zoom through it on their way to and from work, that it is quite surreal to see the space car-free and full of people strolling around casually.
There were rows upon rows of tables displaying handmade crafts and books; There was incredibly delicious food. The pumpkin stand had pumpkin soups and pumpkin salads for very reasonable prices and great cobs of corn were being grilled from somewhere up in Abdel Wahab Street. There was food from local producers such as honey and jams. There was too much to choose from.
The event was also an opportunity for charities to raise awareness of their work and gain support. The blood donor charity, DSC Lebanon were present with a large stand to attract more donors and mental health awareness and Ebola were other causes that had not been forgotten.
“There really is something for everyone,” Shant, 27, a pedestrian told us “I’ve been walking through Abdel Wahab to Sodeco and have already tried so many new things.”
Kamilla, 34, loved the idea of the car-free day, “I drive through these streets all the time not properly looking at them. The architecture is beautiful. That’s what is special about this event, it gives us the time to step back and take a proper look.”
As adults reflected happily on this grand old street and its history, there were plenty of activities to keep the children amused. Some streets were transformed into a temporary farm space. There was a hay maze, and pumpkin hunt around the whole fair to keep the kids on their toes. People could bring along old clothes and build their own scarecrow. There was also a tractor: kids had the chance to hop on board and take pictures!
Some family- and eco-friendly activities were sponsored by Sama Beirut, who saw the event as an opportunity to encourage the preservation of the environment, in keeping with the project’s own priorities: as Sama Beirut is a vertical project, it will only take up 20% of the total land area of its plot in Sodeco; the rest of the land will be consecrated to green spaces.
As we left the event after enjoying some local music and some great food, Sama Beirut balloon in hand, “this needs to happen more often” we thought to ourselves. Simply being car-free is a real exit from our routine. It can change an area and bring it to life.