Translated by Yara Berbery
Qalhat is a famous place where economics and structures have prospered thanks to its sons and Balamand institutions that connected the sea to the mountain in a series of successive projects. At the entrance of the village, a University Medical Center makes it the heart of the vivacious North.
Its 350m height distinguishes it from other Koura villages and towns. At the seashore, where you can find salt works and olive orchards constituting a basic livelihood for people, Qalhat stretches to the water. However, its people's migration and war circumstances, as well as study needs in private schools and universities, have left it to only two brothers, Malek and Georges Malek. Many of the vineyards, fig and olive trees were replaced by buildings and constructions because their owners went for work and free business and nobody except for Chaker, Ibrahim and Hiba stayed to take care of these fields and invest in nature's bounties of olive, oil, honey, and lemon blossom....
It is worth mentioning that Qalhat was rich with castles, and its name was derived from and means attacks and revolutions. The village was mentioned in Ramses II messages in the third century BC which indicates it goes back to the era of the pharaohs. Many other families abandoned it during World War I, and later during the 17th century no one stayed because of the civil war. They all went to Uruguay, Australia and America.
Then, with the oil wealth discovery in the Gulf, the majority of young men migrated.
This had contributed to a local urban renaissance, especially with the launch of the University of Balamand which attracted students from all over Lebanon and abroad. Thus, more than five dorm complexes for students were constructed as well as shops, cafes, restaurants and banks. The establishment of the first technology company "A Star" has also contributed to the prosperity of the country giving job opportunities to residents, in addition to some affiliations in parliamentary institutions, whether in Saint John of Damascus Institute of Technology or in French and English secondary schools or colleges and university in its different majors.
This scientific and cultural environment activated Qalhat Sports and Cultural Club, which was founded in 1971 and included volleyball, social, and cultural activities.
However, when a young man, Anis Fawzi, was appointed as president of the club from 2001 to 2012, he changed it from one team of men to eight teams participating in the federation for men, women and juniors from all age groups and from Koura and North regions until the number over passed 90 players. Thus, the team moved to the third division, with the female Lebanese team winning the Lebanese Cup in the Federation Championship. The club managed to reap more than seven silver medals and a bronze one for the men and women teams. Paddle tennis has been added and Tennis courses organized two sessions every year for both sexes, so everybody could participate in the Federation.
The club participated in the Development Council Marathon and Bachmazin Marathon gaining gold, silver and bronze medals. It also joined Ping Pong, Football, and beach Volleyball courses.
This is not to mention that the club also organizes annual recreational activities, Kermes and trips, as well as mother's day and Christmas celebrations, during which gifts are distributed. The club plans a volleyball festival every year under the sponsorship of the Army Commander, in which successful candidates in the official certification are honored under the auspices of the municipality, and cash prizes and appreciation shields are presented.
In the framework of cultural activities, the club arranges "heritage village" festival, seminars, courses in languages and computer skills. Last summer, it launched, for the first time, Qalhat art festivals, during which renowned artist, Ziad Rahbani, was hosted. Today, the club is fighting against drugs, in different activities, as part of the Lebanese Youth Association for Development with the coordination of Naame.
Naame sees sports as a physical and moral school especially that the club includes men and women players from all regions and confessions, forming a small image of the nation he aspires to.
The municipality of Qalhat has a great merit in the development of the town, and its chairman, Sleiman Nader, who opened principal and secondary roads to ease traffic in the vicinity of the University of Balamand. He also opened a public park and sidewalks, and built support walls. He is now seeking to establish a municipal palace replacing the current building granted by one of the sons of the town.
Mayor Radwan Mukhtar praises family and social bonding in Qalhat. He believes the village is an example for collaboration despite the faltering customs draw back that prevailed in rural areas. The migration rate has increased, turning resident's attention from agriculture and land to jobs and other works.
The most prominent families of Qalhat are Naser, Neemeh, Moussa, Wehbe, Hamati, Saba, Elias, Nader, Chamoun, Sleiman, Mleis, Chahine, Al Hage, Khoury, Jabbour, Al Murr, Gerges, Malek, Al Azar, Abdallah and Nasrallah noting that most of them come from Al Naser.
Michel, Moussa Khoury, Sleiman, Nassim, Rouh Nasr, Edmond Nader and all the late Naamans' were known for their special poetry. Personalities from Qalhat assumed reputable positions in Lebanon and abroad. Some of them are : Head of the educational area in the north, Nahla Hamati, Koura General Executor in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Bakhos Wehbe, Koura caza Docteur Michel Neemeh, former director of Bank of Beirut in Tripoli, Michel Melhem, former Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Dr Aata Jabbour, Investment director in Lebanese Northern Water Insitution, Engineer, Gaby Nasr, former Director of Tourism Institute in Dekwaneh, Audette Chahine Katrib, Maker of the biggest piece Custer in Guinness book, Michel Issa, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration at Balamand, Dr Karim Nasr, and Dean of Student Affairs Office, Dr Tony George, as well as prominent personalities in Lebanon like Dr Jack and Walid Nasr.
In America, researcher Sonia Nasr shined and many doctors, engineers, businessmen and security leaders have attained remarkable successes.
In Qalhat, around 1,300 inhabitants live and there are three Greek orthodox churches which are the Greek Orthodox church of Saint George, Saint Sarkis and Saint Moussa, as well as the church of Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery.