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|• City||3 sq mi (7 km2)|
|• Metro||10 sq mi (25 km2)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||+3 (UTC)|
|This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2011)|
|• City||3 sq mi (7 km2)|
|• Metro||10 sq mi (25 km2)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||+3 (UTC)|
Sidon or Saïda (Arabic: صيدا, Ṣaydā; Phoenician: , Ṣydwn; Greek: Σιδών; Latin: Sidon; Hebrew: צידון, Ṣīḏōn, Turkish: Sayda) is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Tyre and 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah. Its name coincides with the modern Arabic word for fishery.
Sidon (whose name in classical Arabic is: صَيْدونْ (Saydoon)) has been inhabited since very early in prehistory. The archaeological site of Sidon II shows a lithic assemblage dating to the Acheulean, whilst finds at Sidon III include a Heavy Neolithic assemblage suggested to date just prior to the invention of pottery. It was one of the most important Phoenician cities, and may have been the oldest. From here, and other ports, a great Mediterranean commercial empire was founded. Homer praised the skill of its craftsmen in producing glass, purple dyes, and its women's skill at the art of embroidery. It was also from here that a colonizing party went to found the city of Tyre. Tyre also grew into a great city, and in subsequent years there was competition between the two, each claiming to be the metropolis ('Mother City') of Phoenicia. Glass manufacturing, Sidon's most important enterprise in the Phoenician era, was conducted on a vast scale, and the production of purple dye was almost as important. The small shell of the Murex trunculus was broken in order to extract the pigment that was so rare it became the mark of royalty.
In AD 1855, the sarcophagus of King Eshmun’azar II was discovered. From a Phoenician inscription on its lid, it appears that he was a "king of the Sidonians," probably in the 5th century BC, and that his mother was a priestess of ‘Ashtart, "the goddess of the Sidonians."  In this inscription the gods Eshmun and Ba‘al Sidon 'Lord of Sidon' (who may or may not be the same) are mentioned as chief gods of the Sidonians. ‘Ashtart is entitled ‘Ashtart-Shem-Ba‘al '‘Ashtart the name of the Lord', a title also found in an Ugaritic text.
In the years before Christianity, Sidon had many conquerors: Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and finally Romans. Herod the Great visited Sidon. Both Jesus and Saint Paul are said to have visited it too (see Biblical Sidon below). The city was eventually conquered by the Arabs and then by the Ottoman Turks.
Like other Phoenician city-states, Sidon suffered from a succession of conquerors. At the end of the Persian era in 351 BC, it was invaded by the emperor Artaxerxes III and then by Alexander the Great in 333 BC when the Hellenistic era of Sidon began. Under the successors of Alexander, it enjoyed relative autonomy and organized games and competitions in which the greatest athletes of the region participated. In the Necropolis of Sidon, important finds such as the Alexander Sarcophagus, the Lycian tomb and the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women were discovered, which are now on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in Istanbul.
When Sidon fell under Roman domination, it continued to mint its own silver coins. The Romans also built a theater and other major monuments in the city. In the reign of Elagabalus a Roman colonia was established there, and it was given the name of Colonia Aurelia Pia Sidon. During the Byzantine period, when the great earthquake of AD 551 destroyed most of the cities of Phoenicia, Beirut's School of Law took refuge in Sidon. The town continued quietly for the next century, until it was conquered by the Arabs in AD 636.
On 4 December 1110 Sidon was captured a decade after the First Crusade by King Baldwin of Jerusalem and King Sigurd of Norway. It then became the centre of the Lordship of Sidon, an important seigneury in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Saladin captured it from the Crusaders in 1187, but German Crusaders restored it to Christian control in the Crusade of 1197. It would remain an important Crusader stronghold until it was finally destroyed by the Saracens in 1249. In 1260 it was again destroyed by the Mongols. The remains of the original walls are still visible.
After Sidon came under Ottoman Turkish rule in the early 16th century, it regained a great deal of its earlier commercial importance. After World War I it became part of the French Mandate of Lebanon. During World War II the city, together with the rest of Lebanon, was captured by British forces fighting against the Vichy French, and following the war it became a major city of independent Lebanon.
Following the Palestinian exodus in 1948, a considerable number of Palestinian refugees arrived in Sidon, as in other Lebanese cities, and were settled at the large refugee camps of Ein el-Hilweh and Mieh Mieh. At first these consisted of enormous rows of tents, but gradually houses were constructed. The refugee camps constituted de facto neighborhoods of Sidon, but had a separate legal and political status which made them into a kind of enclaves. At the same time, the remaining Jews of the city fled, and the Jewish cemetery fell into disrepair, threatened by coastal erosion.
Sidon was a small fishing town of 10,000 inhabitants in 1900, but studies in 2000 showed a population of 65,000 in the city and around 200,000 in the metropolitan area. The little level land around the city is used for cultivation of some wheat, vegetables, and fruits, especially citrus and bananas. The fishing in the city remains active with a newly opened fishery that sells fresh fish by bidding every morning. The ancient basin is transformed into a fishing port, while a small quay was constructed to receive small commercial vessels. (Refer to the "Old City" and the "Architecture and Landscape" sections below).
According to a recent United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)report "data also point to an increase in urban poverty especially in Lebanon's largest cities suburbs such as Beirut, Tripoli and Saida, as illustrated by poverty-driven symptoms (child labour, over-crowdedness and deteriorated environment conditions)."
In another UNDP report, the author discusses the development predominance of Beirut over the rest of the regions of Lebanon (North, South and Beqaa) is a well-known imbalance that can be dated to the early 19th century. With the expansion of Beirut in the 1870s, urban growth in the future capital-city outgrew Tripoli and Saida. Transportation routes, missionary schools, universities and hospitals as well as the Beirut port development and the commerce of silk participated to the fortification of Beirut as a major trade center for Mediterranean exchange (ARNAUD 1993; LABAKI 1999: 23). However, the establishment of Great Lebanon in 1920, under the French mandate, added the poorer areas of the North (Akkar), Beqaa (Baalbak-Hermel) and the South (Jabal Aamel) to the relatively affluent cities of Mount Lebanon. This addition made of Lebanon a country composed of unequally developed regions. This legacy remains a heavy load to bear socially, culturally, economically and politically. Even though the public policies elaborated by the young Lebanese State were attempting to have regional perspectives, the early urban planning schemes reveal a development approach exclusively axed on Beirut and its suburbs.
The post war development policy of the State, promoted by Hariri government (1992–1998), was centred around balanced development and is widely inspired by the 1943 Pact and the 1989 Taef agreement (LABAKI1993: 104). However the application of this policy aims mainly at the rehabilitation and construction of roads and infrastructures (electricity,telephone, sewage). Another of its components is the rehabilitation of government buildings (airport, port, schools, universities and hospitals). Transportation projects (mainly concentrated on the coastal line) constitute 25% of the budget of 10-year economic plan developed by the CDR (BAALBAKI 1994: 90). However, all these projects are predominantly concentrated around Beirut, ignoring the regions.
Near the southern entrance to the city lies a 'rubbish mountain' called the Makab, a 600,000 cubic metre heap that reaches the height of a four-story building. It was originally created to dispose of the remains of buildings destroyed in Israeli air strikes during the 1982 invasion, but it is now the main dump for the city. Growing out of the sea, it has become an environmental hazard, with medical waste and plastic bags polluting nearby fishing grounds.
Sidon politicians, including the Hariri family, failed for decades to resolve the Makab crisis--which has endangered residents health (especially during episodic burning). In 2004, Engineer Hamzi Moghrabi, a Sidon native, conceived the idea to establish a treatment plant for the City's decades-old chronic waste problem. He established IBC Enviro, privately funded, and the treatment plant became operational in 2013. (http://www.ibc-enviro.com/)
The Ministry of Environment came up with a $50,000+ plan to clean the whole area and transform the dump into a green space, along with other heaps in the country. Qamla beach in Sidon, a coast in close proximity to the Sea Castle, witnessed a large municipal clean up in May 2011, as it was an easy target of rubbish being washed up by the Makab. These plans aim to revive the former glory of the city's coasts and attract tourists who avoided swimming in Sidon's sea before. The project of cleaning the region where the waste dump is begun and currently a waves barrier is being built.
The historical core of Sidon is a Mamluk-era old city that extends between the Sea Castle and the St. Louis Castle. Located on a promontory jutting into the sea, this walled medieval city is very well preserved and is still inhabited today. The old City resembles a vaulted maze with narrow alleyways and winding streets. Arched pathways connect the different neighborhoods of the city. On street level, numerous souvenir shops and mini-markets can be found with old-
fashioned bakeries making crunchy whole wheat bread, called "Kaak". A lot of the alleys take the name of their residents' occupations like the "Carpenters' Alley" and the "Tailors' Alley". Several mosques dating back to the Umayyad Era are still preserved and are open to the public. A number of TV series and Music Videos have been filmed inside the Old city of Sidon. Being of great historical and architectural significance, the Old City went through a lot of renovations and there is still some measure of restoring to be done.
The city of Sidon is administrated by the Municipality of Sidon. The municipality is constituted of a council of 21 members including the City Mayor and his Deputy. It has administrative and financial independence but remains under the control and supervision of the central government, specifically the Ministry of Interior. The municipality's jurisdiction is limited to a region of 786 hectares in area and 5 meters in elevation, while each of the city's suburbs is administrated by its own independent municipal council. Sidon is the center of the Governorate of South Lebanon, and hosts the seat of the Governor of Southern Lebanon. The city is also the center of the Sidon District and the Union of Sidon and Zahrani Municipalities (founded in 1978 and contains 15 municipalities). Sidon hosts the southern regional headquarters of a series of governmental facilities like the Central Bank of Lebanon, Électricité du Liban, Central Telecommunications Station and others. It is also the home of the Justice Palace of South Lebanon in its new headquarters on East Boulevard (the old headquarters were an old Ottoman serial that is currently occupied by the LSF and is planned to be transformed into a cultural center by the municipality).
In the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections, the Sidon District along with the Tyre and Bint Jbeil districts formed the first electoral district of South Lebanon. However, in the 2009 elections – and due to the reactivation of the 1960 electoral law – the city of Sidon was separated from its district to form a separate electoral district.
Sidon is a conservative city with a Sunni Muslim majority: Sunnis make up approximately 80% of the local population, Shiites and Christians combined make up 20%. Sidon is the seat of the Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Sidon and Deir el Qamar, and has housed a significant Catholic population throughout its history. Sidon also hosts the seats of the Sunni Mufti and the Shiite Ayatollah of South Lebanon.
|Religion||Voters||Percent (%)||Religion||Voters||Percent (%)|
|Sunni||36163||79.7||Roman Latin Catholic||82||0.2|
|Greek Melkite Catholic||1686||3.7||Syriac Catholic||17||0.0|
|Armenian Orthodox||256||0.6||Other Christians||19||0.0|
In general, the architectural spaces of the old part of the city, with its antique, medieval and Ottoman quarters, are impressive, and are ranked as world heritage. It is adorned with various examples of great architectural legacies since antiquity. This is the case despite the fact that its buildings and alleyways are neglected, and require monumental renovations and organised efforts to prevent them from falling into further ruin. Some international funds were allocated to sponsor the facelifting of certain public spaces and old squares with the provision if minimal infrastructure. There are also individual initiatives to restore specific neighbourhoods as pioneered by the Audi Foundation and its elegantly rehabilitated old soap factory, now turned into a museum. The same applies to the renewal of the Debbane Ottoman mansion or villa, which was originally linked to the Hammoud family trust and was even occupied by a branch of the aristocratic Abaza family towards the end of the 19th century. The old city has great architectural potentials that remain underdeveloped. It has qualities that can put it on par with the old quarters of Antibes if its architecture becomes safeguarded and protected as well as promoted for quality life-styles. Sidon can learn from more modest yet successful examples in Lebanon itself, such as the restoration and adaptive re-use of the old quarters of Byblos and its small seaport entourage, or to be inspired in a humbler scale by the development of Downtown Beirut.
The modern city of Sidon that extends outside the walls of the medieval quarters is generally chaotic, deprived of any notable aesthetics, built with inexpensive material, and lacking in any form of urban planning. There are some minor exceptions to this at the level of individual buildings, especially those erected in the 1950s to the 1960s, in addition to a small number of mosques, commercial malls and villas or buildings designed by proper architects or up-market developers. The sprawl in the built environment has disfigured the cityscape and the landscape around it. Ugly buildings and terrible parking lots replaced the great citrus orchards that once surrounded Sidon and used to perfume it in the springtime. The only highly maintained green-space that has refined qualities is the War Cemetery of the British legions in the Levant during World War I and World War II that fell in Sidon. Beautifully landscaped and managed by the British, this cemetery is surrounded outside its fences by dilapidated buildings and scarred neglected landscapes. Near it remains a large citrus orchard that one hopes will resist the assaults of chaotic and irreverent builders. Moreover, the old city of Sidon that was always connected to the sea and its waves has been separated from its seashores by a very wide highway of asphalt that the locals refer to as the "corniche". These rather defacing aspects are also set against a total lack of green public spaces and gardens. This aggressive degradation in the urban and architectural qualities has furthermore reached a dangerous turn in ecological terms with the disposal of sewage in the seafront and the dumping of refuse material that culminated in a mountain of rubbish known as the "Makab" (as noted in the section above), which threatens not only Sidon's sea and the life within it, but also a vast stretch of the Eastern Mediterranean coastline. In fairness, one still has to note that Sidon is not worse in its urban and environmental conditions than other Lebanese cities like Tyre or Tripoli. The greatest maritime city of Sidon, which was once set in a longstanding marriage with the sea, and that used to be adorned in all sides by gardens and orchids, is now turned against itself, becoming a living threat to the sea that also consumes the remainder of the green landscape and litters it. Maybe the future generations of this once grand city will someday experience the saving awakenings before it is too late. Perhaps the expat immigrant Sidonians who have been exposed to the qualities of life in North America, Europe, and the rich Arab states of the Gulf may bring novel initiatives of more refined development.
Sidon contains several shopping venues boasting local and international brands, as well as a handful of food and beverage outlets like the "Spinneys" and "BSAT" supermarkets. Traditional Coffeeshops serving Turkish coffee and the fruit-flavored Hubble Bubble occupy the seafront of the Old City while modern restaurants, especially those that serve Lebanese and Italian cuisine, are centered in the new city. From McDonald's and KFC to Starbucks, Burger King and Pizza Hut, several western chains have opened at least one branch in the city, with more opening in the near future. Traditional Oriental sweets are Sidon's speciality with regionally renowned sweetshops found all over the city.
Shopping is concentrated within two areas: East Boulevard, and the city center. From the high-end designer stores of Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior to stores directed to low and middle-income consumers, clothing stores in Sidon cater to all tastes and needs. Several other international clothing brands could be found in the city. These include ALDO, Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Springfield, Timberland, Zara, Mango, Pull and Bear, Mothercare, Bossini, H&M, Benetton, and GS. Some of these stores could be found in the 2 malls in the city, Saida Mall (24,000 sq meters) and Le Mall (12,000 sq meters), aside to kids entertainment facilities, cafes and restaurants.
Sidon also has a large Amusement Park near its southern entrance.
|Hammoud Hospital University Medical Center||Private/Universityfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Saida Governmental Hospital||Public||N/A|
|Al Janoub hospital||Private||N/A|
|South Health Complex||Privateemail@example.com|
|Al Nakib hospital||Private||N/A|
|Al Rai Hospital||Private||N/A|
Sidon is home to numerous educational facilities ranging from public elementary schools to private universities. According to a 2006 study, the city is home to 29 schools that serve a total of 18,731 students: 37% are in public schools, 63% are in private schools. Sidon also contains 10 universities, 5 of which are private universities.
|Lebanese International University (LIU)||N/A||Private|
|Lebanese University (LU)||Faculty of Law, Political Science and Public Administration||Public|
|University of Saint Joseph (USJ)||N/A||Private|
|American University of Lebanon (AUL)||N/A||Private|
|Lebanese University (LU)||Faculty of Public Health||Public|
|Lebanese University (LU)||Faculty of Literature and human Science||Public|
|Lebanese University (LU)||Institute of Social Sciences||Public|
|American University of Science and Technology||N/A||Private|
|Lebanese American University||N/A||Private|
|Lebanese University (LU)||Institute of Technology||Public|
The Beirut Arab University declared recently that its future Sidon Campus will host its Faculty of Medicine.
The sectarian division in Sidon is evident. Although the locals have found some sort of understanding to settle together and coexist, the division managed to rise to the surface on several occasions. The city proper is largely occupied by Sunni Muslims, while Christians dwell in the densely populated suburbs, forming an urban belt that encircles the city. Shiite Muslims live in a large hilly terrain that extends south of the city.
This sectarian and demographic division rose to the surface during the Lebanese Civil War, when armed clashes erupted between the pro-Palestinian Sunni Muslims and the anti-Palestinian Christians. The clashes ended with the surrender of the Christian front, and the Christians were forced to move to east Beirut. After the war ended in 1990, the Christians have gradually returned to their hometowns.
After the Hariri assassination in 2005, Lebanon was divided between two large coalitions: 14 March Coalition (anti-Syrian) and 8 March Coalition (pro-Syrian). Sidon, being the hometown of Rafik Hariri, supported the anti-Syrian bloc while the rest of the largely Shiite Zahrani region lined with Hezbollah. This sharp division led to severe clashes on 7 May 2008 in Beirut between the Sunnis and the Shiites, with minor altercations extending to Sidon.
In Sidon, the symbols of support for the Sunni contingent in politics manifests itself in large photos of Rafic and Sa'ad Hariri on buildings everywhere, as well as banners with slogans such as 'We will not allow scum to run our country'. In Sidon, Saudi Arabia is the dominant outside influence and it is said that Saudi money keeps the Lebanese economy afloat.
In the 2009 parliamentary elections, Sidon city was declared a separate electoral district in accordance with the 1960 electoral law. Two Sunni Muslim seats were designated for the representation of the city in the Parliament. The battle was between two lists: the first included former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Minister Bahia Hariri, the second list contained only one candidate Osama Saad, son of a prominent political family and Hariri's rival. After a tough battle between the two lists, the Pro-Hariri duo swept the city with 24,000 votes.
Sidon I is an archaeological site located to the east of the city, south of the road to Jezzine. An assemblage of flint tools was found by P. E. Gigues suggested to date between 3800 to 3200 BC. The collection included narrow axes or chisels that were polished on one side and flaked on the other, similar to ones found at Ain Cheikh, Nahr Zahrani and Gelal en Namous. The collection appears to have gone missing from the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut.
Sidon III was found by E. Passemard in the 1920s, who made a collection of material that is now in the National Museum of Beirut marked "Camp de l'Aviation". It includes large flint and chert bifacials that may be of Heavy Neolithic origin.
Sidon IV is the tell mound of ancient Sidon with Early Bronze Age (3200 BC -) deposits, now located underneath the ruined Château de St. Louis and what are also thought to be the ruins of a Roman theatre.
In indication of the high-profile of the old city of Sidon in archaeological expeditions, and mainly in the 19th century, in October 1860 the famous French scholar Ernest Renan was entrusted with an archaeological mission to Lebanon, which included the search for the antique parts of Sidon. The Phoenician inscriptions that he discovered, and his field data, were eventually published in his notebook the: Mission de Phénicie (1864–1874; Phoenician Expedition).
The St. Louis land-castle grounds were excavated in 1914–1920 by a French team. Then eastwards a new site was also excavated by another generation of French expeditions in the 1960s. This same site received renewed attention in 1998 when the Directorate General of Antiquities in Lebanon authorized the British Museum to begin excavations on this area of land that was specifically demarcated for archaeological research. This has resulted in published papers, with a special focus on studying ceramics.
The archaeological fieldwork was not fully undertaken since the independence of the Lebanon. The main finds are displayed in the National Museum in Beirut. The fieldwork was also interrupted during the long civil war period, and it is now resumed but at a timid and slow scale, and not involving major international expeditions or expertise. Perhaps this is also indicative of the general lack in cultural interests among the authorities of this city, and almost of the non-existence of notable intellectual activities in its modern life. There are signs that the locals are beginning to recognise the value of the medieval quarters, but this remains linked to minor individual initiatives and not a coordinated collective effort to rehabilitate it like it has been the case with Byblos, even though the old district of Sidon contains a great wealth in old and ancient architecture.
The Bible describes Sidon in several passages:
Sidon is twinned with:
In the Modern Era (in order from the start of the 20th century to the present with political and/or business prominence):
In Antiquity and the Pre-Modern Era:
(From late antiquity, across the Middle Ages, and up till the modern era, these seem to have been periods of intellectual demise, with no notable figures to mention. The 20th century continues this trend and it is dominated by local politicians and by activists, and it is very rare to name notable intellectuals, artists or literary figures with international and established profiles):
In the Modern Era (from the start of the 20th century):
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