MedArtSal International Salt Fair Concludes with an Immersive Exploration of Anfeh and the Official Announcement of the City on the Touristic, Environmental, Cultural and Heritage Map.
Beirut, Lebanon – June 10, 2023
The MedArtSal 2nd International Salt Fair came to a remarkable conclusion on Friday the 9th of June 2023 with an extraordinary journey through the captivating town of Anfeh. The fair, organized by Fair Trade Lebanon in collaboration with the Association of the Development of Rural capacities (ADR) and the MedArtSal consortium, celebrated sustainable business models in artisanal Salinas while promoting traditional production methods and preserving biodiversity.
On the third and last day of the event, the participants from Italy, Spain, Tunis and Lebanon including media representatives, tourism bloggers & influencers, with various stakeholders from Anfeh, were treated to a journey filled with immersive experiences that showcased the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of the village. The itinerary started with a visit to the historical sites of the village, where visitors were captivated by the ancient wonders and the stories they hold.
After exploring the historical sites, attendees gathered for a lunch at Salacia Beach and Salinas, where they indulged in local cuisine and enjoyed the scenic coastal views. The lively atmosphere fostered connections and conversations among the participants, further enriching the experience.
Following the lunch, the journey continued with a visit to the renowned Saydet Al Natour Monastery, a site of great historical and spiritual significance followed by the visits of Anfeh’s Salinas of Subgrantees, the salt museum, and a captivating walking tour of “la route du sel.” These immersive experiences provided a deeper understanding of the artisanal salt production process and its profound connection to the local culture and traditions.
As the day progressed, Anfeh Municipality welcomed the participants with open arms, providing an opportunity for them to engage with the local community and gain insights into their daily life. The presence of Lebanon’s Minister of Tourism HE Mr. Walid Nassar and the Minister of the Environment HE Mr. Nasser Yassin added significance to the occasion, highlighting the commitment to promoting sustainable tourism and preserving cultural heritage. This conclusive and interesting gathering started with a word from the municipality representative Mr. Emile Abdallah thanking the attendees, participants, and MedArtSal stakeholders for their efforts and visit to Anfeh.
Dr. Esmat Karadsheh, coordinator of the Eastern Med Office-ENI CBC MED program, also had important topics to highlight during his speech including a small note about the achievements of the MedArtSal project as a whole, and concluded his word with call for the Lebanese communities and organizations to “be ready to work collectively with the government on creating and implementing more sustainable development projects that will hopefully will be arising very soon for Lebanon and the Mediterranean region”. He also expressed his joy to see the youth of Lebanon and Anfeh specifically involved and engaged in promoting sustainable programs.
Following positive and interesting speeches by the Minister of Environment, HE Mr. Walid Nassar, Minister of Tourism in Lebanon, took the opportunity of his presence to announce listing Anfeh on the official international touristic map. HE Nassar ended his speech with words that lifted the ambiance: “I would like to announce on this occasion that brought us together today, that I have issued a ministree decision that puts Anfeh village’s historic salinas (Ras Al Malalih), the historic castle site (Al Kalaa) and the Natour Monastery areas on the international map of cultural, heritage, and ecological tourism.” He then added: “this decision falls in harmony with the Ministry’s efforts, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, to draw a comprehensive strategic plan for sustainable tourism and development in Lebanon.”
During the unique and immersive last day of the salt fair, Samir Abdelmalak, President of Fair Trade Lebanon said: “The MedArtSal 2nd International Salt Fair has been a remarkable journey that has united individuals and organizations in the pursuit of sustainable development and cultural preservation. The field visit to Anfeh has allowed us to witness firsthand the importance of artisanal salt production and its deep-rooted connection to the region’s heritage. We extend our gratitude to all the participants, partners, and stakeholders who have contributed to the success of this event.”
Highlighted by the presence and support of the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of the Environment, the day finally ended with a networking cocktail, creating an atmosphere of celebration and camaraderie. Participants had the opportunity to forge new partnerships and collaborations, laying the foundation for future initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable development, safeguarding cultural treasures, and preserving the artisanal salt industry in the Mediterranean region.
The MedArtSal 2nd International Salt Fair has successfully showcased the achievements of the MedArtSal project and the dedication of Fair Trade Lebanon in supporting sustainable and ethical trade practices. Through initiatives like the MedArtSal project, Fair Trade Lebanon aims to create sustainable opportunities and improve the livelihoods of marginalized communities and local producers. The project strongly endorses the values and commitments of the European Union, as an economic and political union of 27 European countries, founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. It acts globally to promote sustainable development of societies, environment, and economies, so that everyone can benefit.
MedArtSal – Sustainable Management of Artisanal Salt Mines of the Mediterranean – is funded by the European Union through the ENI CBC Med program. The total project budget is € 3.2 million and the EU contribution is € 2.00. € 9 million (90%). MedArtSal is a 3-year project that aims to promote the sustainable development of artisanal salt pans, providing specific support on economic, environmental and governance issues related to salt production. By addressing common challenges in 4 Mediterranean regions (Italy, Spain, Lebanon and Tunisia), the project aims to promote the development of a sustainable and adaptable management model that encourages the territorial valorization of artisanal salt pans. The project is led by CUEIM – University Consortium for Industrial and Business Economics (Italy) and has the support of partners such as Association for the Development of Rural Capacities (Lebanon), Fair Trade Lebanon (Lebanon), IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, MEDSEA Foundation (Italy), Saida Society (Tunisia), the University of Cádiz (Spain) and the Tunisian-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CTICI (Tunisia).
About Fair Trade Lebanon
Fair Trade Lebanon is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting fair and ethical trade practices that guarantee fair remuneration and decent income to small producers and cooperatives. Founded in 2006, Fair Trade Lebanon is member of the World Fair Trade Organization, a global community of social enterprises spread across 76 countries that fully practice Fair Trade and put people and planet first in everything they do. Through various initiatives and projects, including most importantly the MedArtSal project, Fair Trade Lebanon aims to create sustainable opportunities and improve the livelihoods of marginalized communities and local producers.