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Ernest & Young assesses feasibility of $1.2 billion Sannine Zenith scheme

The international consulting firm Ernest & Young plans to submit a feasibility study in May of this year on the Sannine Zenith project, the largest tourist and ski resort in the Middle East, an official from Sannine Zenith Holding said on Tuesday.

In addition to Ernest & Young the Canadian firm Ecosign Mountain Resort will hammer out the details of the master plan of the $1.2 billion project and submit it to the Urban Planning Department for final approval.

"If we get the approval this year then we can start working on the first phase of the project in the summer," said Firas al- Amine, the public relations officer of Sannine Zenith Holding.

He added that representatives of different companies involved in the project met Tuesday in Beirut to review the steps taken so far.

The company has purchased 75 million meters of land in the Sannine area for the project.

Amine stressed that once the master plan is completed, the company will approach investors to buy special Global Depository Receipts which will entitle them to own part of the resort.

He added that contrary to the general feeling, investors were not swayed by UN Security Council resolution 1559 which calls on Syrian forces to pull out from Lebanon and to disarm all Lebanese and non- Lebanese militias.

"Investors have great confidence in Lebanon because they realize that peace in the Middle East may be near," Amine said.

He added that the company is seeking a strategic partner but declined to give further details.

Sannine Zenith, which will include hotels, chalets, and golf courses, is expected to create thousands of jobs.

Amine said that over 56 skiing slopes in the area were identified by the developers, making it the largest skiing resort in the Middle East.

The first phase of the project will be completed in three years while the second and third phases will be finished in the following years.

Lebanon hopes to host the winter Olympics on Sannine's slopes in 2010.

Beirut,02 14 2005
Osama Habib
The Daily Star
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