Black Friday reveals Lebanese concern about political crisis

The markets in Beirut are not showing unusual trading signals even though the Beirut Traders Association has made Black Friday last for three days. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2018
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Black Friday reveals Lebanese concern about political crisis

  • Our purchasing power is affected by crises, says Lebanese woman
  • The political crisis has created economic stagnation, says economist

BEIRUT: “Every day is Black Friday in Lebanon.” The term Black Friday in the Lebanese vocabulary has a different meaning when it comes to purchasing power.

Ghada Buqshan, a Lebanese woman, told Arab News that she was among the first to go shopping on Black Friday in order to buy clothes at reduced prices for her children.

She said: “I was shocked to see that the shops have manipulated the concept of Black Friday and reduced the prices of selected products only, while keeping the rest of their stock at normal prices.”

“When I go shopping on this particular day, it is because my purchasing power has declined due to a decline in my husband’s work, so I try to save money, but the joy of shopping is always there.”

The markets in Beirut are not showing unusual trading signals even though the Beirut Traders Association has made Black Friday last for three days in an attempt to attract the largest number of shoppers.

Ahmed, the owner of one of the best women’s clothing stores in Beirut, said: “There are many reasons for the decline in sales. Whenever the political situation in Lebanon worsens, the markets freeze.”

“In addition to that,” he continued, “Black Friday coincides with the end of the month when families have spent most of their monthly salaries without leaving much to be spent on luxuries. Clothes have become a luxury though food, drink, rent and school fees are all priorities.”

The manager of another store, who wanted to remain anonymous, pointed out, “The purchasing power in Lebanon is declining year by year.” He explained that the store’s customers were mostly people on minimum wage as well as affluent individuals.

He added: “Lebanese customers buy specific items which have reduced prices, while non-Lebanese customers spend large sums.”

A Saudi woman who was carrying many shopping bags seemed to be in a hurry while shopping in Beirut with her daughter said the market atmosphere was good and the prices were “very reasonable.”

However, Nada Hamed, a Lebanese woman who will soon travel to Australia, said: “My purchasing power is like everyone else’s; it gets affected by crises, causing my desire to shop to decrease.”

Protests against the deteriorating economic situation were translated by activists, who started petitions on social media websites to call for a demonstration in the vicinity of the National Museum of Beirut, During the demonstration, people carried banners that condemned “the quota in power” and “corruption.” They also chanted against senior officials and “the ruling mafia.”

Economist Ghazi Wazni explained that the decline in demand on Black Friday “reflects the great concern leading people to refrain from making purchases amid this ambiguous political situation which has been a deadlock.”

He added: “This year, economic activity dropped by 25 percent, and the trade sector was counting on the two months of November and December, during which several holidays and events take place, making them represent 30 percent of the economic activity in Lebanon. However, it seems the political crisis associated with not forming a government has been worrying people.”

Wazni pointed out that more than 35 percent of the Lebanese people are poor, while the middle class does not exceed 40 percent of the population and affluent families represent 25 percent.

“It seems the political crisis has created economic stagnation and sent many establishments into bankruptcy, which has led to economic and political suffering of 75 percent of the Lebanese population,” he added.

The formation of the new government is expected to lead to the implementation of reforms. However, the formation of the new government is still pending due to the existing political problems.


Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

A member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) reacts next to policemen during a demonstration in solidarity with a HDP lawmaker on hunger strike in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

  • Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying outside the home of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike for 100 days.
The protest bid coincides with the 20th anniversary of the capture of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in a notorious prison island near Istanbul.
Leyla Guven of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched her action on Nov. 8 while in jail to protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions.
She was freed last month under judicial supervision but continued her protest, refusing any treatment. Guven, 55, is consuming only sugared or salted water.
Police on Friday blocked supporters from approaching Guven’s house in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir after a rally called by the HDP, an AFP correspondent said.
“The biggest task ahead of us today is to turn every aspect of life into an arena for struggle and support hunger strikes at the highest level,” HDP MP Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said.
“This dark picture and severe conditions of fascism can only be broken through our organized struggle,” Tasdemir said.
More than 200 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest what they call Ocalan’s isolation, according to the HDP.
Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Ocalan was caught in Kenya outside the Greek Embassy in Nairobi on Feb. 15, 1999 by Turkish secret service agents after attempting to seek asylum in Europe.
Turkish authorities last month allowed Ocalan’s brother Mehmet to see him, the first visit in over two years.