The $500m Natour development is no longer on hold and the project developer says design work will be completed by June.

The Natour project, located near Anfeh, south of Tripoli, covers an area of 485,000 square metres, and includes two hotels, residential villas, a large marina, shopping mall and other associated facilities such as swimming pools and spa. The masterplan also incorporates 450 metres of seashore and an old Cistercian monastery (MEED 18:11:05).

Once the designs have been finalised and construction contracts awarded, the project is estimated to take three to four years to complete.

The project is estimated to take three to four years to complete, once designs have been finalised

Local developer Malia Holding originally started work on the real estate project in 2004. But it subsequently encountered a number of political and planning hurdles that forced the company to put its plans on hold, says a source close to the project.

Following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, Lebanon was plunged into a period of acute political unrest and instability. But since then the political situation has gradually improved and Malia has been able to restart the Natour development, says a source close to the project.

The project was also stalled by planning problems with the local authorities over straightening of the coastal motorway linking Anfeh and Tripoli.

The developer and the authorities have now agreed to replace part of the road and the project is now free to go ahead.