It all started when a group of Homsis (from Homs, Syria) started this ambitious and pioneering project on a stretch of beautiful beach 15 km north of Tartous. It’s worthwhile mentioning that several other projects were started and completed at the same time, all located in the Tartous area. What makes the Tartous coastline unique, from Banias 30 km north to al-Arida (border with Lebanon) 30 km south is the fact that it’s almost entirely a sandy stretch. The other projects still have their fans, but objectively speaking they are nowhere, not even close to what the Rimal is. If we consider the market value of property (price/sq.m.) then the disparity is very much evident. Today, we are talking of some chalets having a real market value of over US$1million. Prices range from US$50,000 for small apartments in high rise buildings on the fringe of the compound to, as mentioned above, +1 mil for the nice unattached single story units in front of the large green lawn with an unobstructed view of the sea.
Rimal is a self-sufficient, entirely independent little town. The summer population could well reach 20,000+ inhabitants. During the off season, it’s almost completely deserted except for the employees and caretakers. I am lucky to supervise the remodeling of chalets during the winter months there. That gives me the opportunity to enjoy a few moments of solitude by the sea almost everyday. Rimal is a closed city, meaning that you have to pass through a single main gate to get in. Although I am not one who favors elitist policy, I have to admit that this procedure has enhanced the compound’s all around comfort and value. Rimal has received several awards from different international tourist organizations for the quality of service and the recreational value it offers. There are a few restaurants and cafes inside, several shops, a medical facility and a bakery all very clean and well taken care of. A bid for a large hotel has been awarded this year and the construction at the south end should start soon.
From a social and demographic point of view, the residents of Rimal are almost exclusively upper middle class or rich. The majority comes from Homs and there are a good number of Damascene, Aleppians and Tartoussis. In recent years, the trend is of younger and middle aged Tartoussis buying and the previous generation of “interior” Syrians selling. Still, the atmosphere is a wonderful mixture of young and old during the day, and mainly young boys and girls filling all the sidewalks, the roads and the chairs in the local cafes at night.
Rimal Zahabieh is a must visit when you have a chance to be in Tartous during the summer. When you get in for the first time you are sure to be surprised very nicely indeed. It is also a clear indication of what private citizens could achieve without the intervention, interference or the “help” of the government in Syria and everywhere else.