Doff your caps to this Lebanese artist’s record-breaking Ramadan artwork

Caroline Chaptini, who is a Christian, said she decided to create the 240-square-meter artwork featuring the symbol of the Muslim holy month to celebrate the Eid Al-Fitr holiday. (Supplied: Youssef Chagoury)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Doff your caps to this Lebanese artist’s record-breaking Ramadan artwork

  • She has created a 240-square-meter artwork featuring the symbol of the Muslim holy month

CAIRO: A Lebanese artist is about to set a new world record with a massive mosaic image of the Ramadan crescent moon she made with a million bottle caps.

Caroline Chaptini, who is a Christian, said she decided to create the 240-square-meter artwork featuring the symbol of the Muslim holy month to celebrate the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, and highlight the unity of Lebanese people of all religions and sects.

She opted to think big when planning the project and set out to break the existing world record for bottle-top mosaics, which was set in 2019 when employees of Japanese manufacturing company Sintokogio used 105,840 caps to create a 108-square-meter image.

This is not Chaptini’s first world record success. Last year in Chekka, a coastal town in northern Lebanon, she built a 28.1 meter-tall Christmas tree made from 120,000 plastic bottles, which set a new Guinness World Record for the tallest plastic bottle sculpture.

The million blue and white caps used in her latest project were collected by people in Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They were used to create a blue crescent moon and two stars against a white background.

“I made a video telling people that I was planning to collect one million plastic bottle caps,” Chaptini said. “They got my back,” she said of her social-media followers, who quickly spread the word.

“Believe it or not, most of the people who helped me were not my friends or people I knew before this project,” she said.

Chaptini’s plans were unexpectedly threatened when the coronavirus pandemic emerged, but she remained determined to see the project through.

“When we dream, we can make the impossible possible,” she said. So she pushed ahead, with a smaller support team and a few minor changes to the project.

“Initially we were planning to get support from the municipality but they apologized given the coronavirus situation,” she said. “I didn’t want to give up my idea, especially since I had promised people that I would go for it, even though I was still looking for a sponsor.”

Just as she did with the bottles she used in her previous record-breaking project, when this one is complete Chaptini will give the two tons of plastic caps she used to recycling companies who, in return, will donate money to Kids First, an organization in Jbeil that provides support for young cancer patients.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to help these young patients in any way that can help them feel better,” said Chaptini, who has an 11-year-old daughter of her own.

She added that she is proof that you do not have to fit a certain stereotype to build a following on social media or become an influencer.

“I was surprised to see how much influence I had and how much people appreciated art with an environmental and a humanitarian aim,” she said.

“I did not need to be anything but myself to get support and attention for my initiative. I didn’t need to be a model or a makeup artist or to dress up a certain way seeking attention.”

Flash floods in southern Yemen kill five, displace hundreds

Updated 23 min 33 sec ago

Flash floods in southern Yemen kill five, displace hundreds

  • Five shepherds in the Henan valley were swept away as floods hit farms

AL-MUKALLA: Heavy rains and flash floods hit provinces in southern Yemen on Wednesday and Thursday, killing five people, displacing hundreds of families and isolating villages, local government officials told Arab News.

The heavy rain that began on Wednesday in Yemen's southern province of Hadramout triggered flash floods that killed five shepherds in the Henan valley and damaged farms.

“The five young men went to the valley to bring back their camels and sheep before floods washed them away,” Hesham Al-Souaidi, a local government official, told Arab News by telephone on Thursday.

Local authorities and residents found three bodies and are still searching for the other two.

Al-Souaidi said that flood waters destroyed farms and killed a large number of livestock in the agricultural Wadi Hadramout.

Southern Yemeni provinces have been bracing for the tropical depression since Saturday, when it hit Oman’s southern city of Salalah, as the country’s National Meteorological Center issued alerts, urging Yemenis to avoid traveling during the the storm and to avoid flood courses.

In coastal parts of Hadramout, hundreds of families living near flood channels were forced to flee to after flooding reached unprecedented levels.

Amen Barezaeg, a local government official assigned by the Hadramout governor to lead a relief committee, told Arab News that his team has documented the displacement of 450 families from Mayfa Hajer district alone, adding that the floods damaged roads, farms and isolated many remote areas in the province.

“We are now working on reopening roads to reach the isolated villages. The damage is huge,” he said.

Flash floods displaced dozens of families, washed away hundreds of palm trees and damaged dozens of houses in Hajr town, west of the city of Al-Mukalla, Hadramout province capital.

In some areas of Hadramout, residents said the floods were more destructive than those caused by cyclones over the last five years.

“We have never seen floods like this. Only the floods in 1996 were as strong as these,” Mohammed Bahamel, a journalist from Boroum Mayfa village, west of Al-Mukalla, told Arab News.

Heavy rains triggered flash flooding that wreaked similar havoc in Shabwa, Abyan and Aden, but with no reported casualties, according to local officials.

A government official in Shabwa province told Arab News that the floods washed away farms, isolated villages and damaged several houses.

In Aden, bulldozers were seen clearing mud from the streets as government officials inspected damage caused by the rain.

In April, the internationally recognized government declared Aden, the interim capital of Yemen, a “disaster” area after torrential rains and heavy flooding killed more than 10 people and damaged infrastructure.

Local health officials and residents say that the latest rainfall may set the stage for the spread of the coronavirus and other diseases that killed more than 1,000 people in May.

Wednesday’s floods destroyed the main road that links Hadramout province with Aden, disrupting movement of medical teams and vital medical supplies, including testing kits, officials said.

Meteorologists predicted that the rains would disappear on the weekend.

“Remnants of the tropical depression continue to produce rain across southwest Yemen. Rain will wane over the area on Friday,” Jason Nicholls, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, said on Twitter on Thursday.