NNA – Blessed be the town that preserves history, within which manifests the beauty of nature. Blessed be the town held high by its religious shrines and humbled by its generous, loving, and united people.
It is the calm, quaint town of Haouch Tal Safiya, laying on the Beqaa’s fertile plain. Between its folds lies the body of Lady Safiya, after whom the town was named. She is the daughter of Imam Hussein, granddaughter of Allah’s Messenger, Mohammad.
Haouch Tal Safiya is one of the most beautiful villages of the governorate near the sun of cities Baalbeck. It is about 10 km far from the center of Baalbeck Governorate, and about 80 km from the capital, Beirut, rising 1100 m above the sea.
It is a town that contributed to the flourished religious touristic movement in Baalbek – Hermel Governorate, thanks to the shrine on its land, as its proximity to the City of the Sun, Baalbeck, has motivated every visitor of Baalbeck’s religious sites to seek blessings from that holy shrine.
Haouch Tal Safiya resides amidst a vast, ample plain planted with golden wheat. The town is surrounded by several villages: Lat to the north, Al-Alaq and Budai to the west, Majdaloun and Haouch Barda to the south, and the City of the Sun, Baalbeck, to the east, for a total area of about 5 hectares.
It is home to Christian and Muslim communities. Its most renown families are: Muawiya, Rouhana, Faraj, Fouani, Hanash, Vitroni, Bourji, Nader, Karam, and Baeeno.
It has a population of about 3,500, of which 2,000 are residents. As for those displaced in search of knowledge and work make up about 1,300 of its people. Its expatriates are about 200 people spread among the United States of America, Canada, European countries, and Gulf States.
The number of voters in the town is about 750. Most of the families of the town are intellectuals with higher university degrees, not to mention a large number of lawyers, engineers, officers, poets, and Muslim and Christian scholars. The name of Ambassador Jaafar Mohammed Muawiya has shone bright in several Arab and Islamic countries.
The town of Haouch Tal Safiya is known for its wide plain and arable soil. Of its most prominent plantings are: grains of all kinds, such as wheat, lentils, and barley. It also has fruit trees such as apples and peaches. Vines and tobacco are also cultivated, in addition to fruitless trees such as pine and cypress, which adorn the town’s entrance and roads.
The town is also home to several springs, which are mostly dried, the most important of which is the Adus spring. Under the tomb of Lady Safia also lies an archaeological spring dating back to Roman times.
Haouch Tal Safiya is distinguished from other towns by its food industry. It has three food factories based on manufacturing milk and converting it into food products, including dairy and cheese of all kinds, with the most advanced machines. These products are also subjected to careful laboratory testing before packaging, not to mention the high-quality manufacturing process. The quantity of production of these factories is greater than the need of geographical scope; products are distributed to all Lebanese territory.
The town also has poultry farms where poultry is cared for using the latest technological methods, which contributed to the quality of healthy production of egg and chicken.
The town is most honored to embrace the shrine of Lady Safiya, daughter of Imam Hussein, who died of thirst, hunger, and fatigue during the long journey of captivity suffered by the Prophet’s family from Kufa to Damascus, to Baalbek and neighboring villages.
This shrine is a landmark for religious tourism. The doors of the shrine remain open to visitors all year round, especially during the forties of Imam Hussein, when it attracts large numbers of believers from all over the world. Voices in multiple languages and dialects rise in prayers for needs to be granted, for the sick to be cured, and for the distressed to be relieved. Within this shrine rest many dignities of which Christians and Muslims have spoken alike, which illustrates the great, dignified status of Lady Safiya in the eyes of God. Also residing in the town is St. John's Church.
The town's economy relies primarily on agriculture, followed by official jobs including army, internal security forces, and a very small percentage of self-employed people.
Haouch Tal Safiya’s Public Middle School, municipal palace building, as well as the Lebanese Association for Rural Development and Social Charitable Association.
The town’s municipality was founded in the sixties of the last century, and is currently headed by Mr. Abbas Khalil Muawiya, whom NNA interviewed. He talked at length about the achievements of the municipal council, most importantly the "Solar Project", which is implemented in cooperation with the World Bank and the Union of Baalbeck Municipalities. This project aims to extract water via solar energy.
Muawiya counted the most prominent development projects completed by the municipality, including: providing electricity to the town through a symbolic monthly subscription supported by the municipality, beautifying the town entrances, and changing all internal roads. The municipality also secured an artesian well, rehabilitated a water tank for the town and a network for water distribution, and made the town's well operate through solar energy. Not to mention that it secured an additional power station, built the municipal palace, and completed the home connections for sewage. Last but not least, it rehabilitated a refinery for drinking water, constructed a brick tent in the public garden, and secured sports fields of its own.
He explained that the Municipal Council has drawn future plans to develop the town, including: preparation of an MRR study in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Program. This resulted in a future action plan in which needs were identified according to priorities. A study was also prepared with the Lebanese Disaster and Crisis Management Committee emanated from the Council of Ministers, in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross Disaster Management Committee, which resulted in a list of potential risks and how to deal with them according to a programmed plan.
The mayor also mentioned the problems faced by the council, the most important of which are: the amounts belonging to the municipality paid from the independent municipal fund, which aren’t enough for the municipality in terms of salaries and wages. The town also suffers from the presence of a landfill within its municipal area, close to residential buildings, which posed a danger to the population in terms of spread of diseases, epidemics and water pollution. This is due to the lack of mechanisms to transport waste to the sorting plant in Baalbek outside the municipal range. In addition, the Syrian displacement constitutes a heavy burden on the municipal council.
"There are a number of demands from the municipal council, including: securing a car for transporting waste, completing the sewage network for new neighborhoods, constructing a new refinery for drinking water with modern specifications because of the inability of the current station to secure the necessary quantities, especially after the high number of displaced Syrians, and completing the public park project,” the mayor added.
He concluded by emphasizing the positive role played by the people of the town through their cooperation with the municipal council to promote it for the better on all levels.