Lebanon to reopen airport in July and send public sector employees back to work

Lebanon to reopen airport in July and send public sector employees back to work
Lebanon will reopen Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut in early July. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 09 June 2020

Lebanon to reopen airport in July and send public sector employees back to work

Lebanon to reopen airport in July and send public sector employees back to work
  • Prime Minister Hassan Diab: We will work to resume flights to the Arabian Gulf region, and we will focus on countries conducting PCR tests to detect coronavirus infections
  • The Cabinet Office said that all public-sector employees should return to their workplaces while taking the necessary measures to prevent coronavirus

BEIRUT: Lebanon has announced that it will reopen Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut in early July.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said during a meeting of the tourism sector’s representatives on Tuesday: “We will work to resume flights to the Arabian Gulf region, and we will focus on countries conducting PCR tests to detect coronavirus infections.”

The Cabinet Office said on Tuesday that all public-sector employees should return to their workplaces while “taking the necessary measures to prevent coronavirus.”

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lebanon reached 1,368 as of Tuesday after 18 new cases were recorded. All of the new cases had been in contact with infected people. The death toll stands at 30.

The government is trying to improve the economic situation, which has worsened with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, by promoting medical tourism, Diab told the heads of tourist establishments, restaurants and hotels.

The leaders of the tourism sector’s syndicates complained of the decline in their businesses due to the deterioration of the lira. The president of the Union of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Amusements and Patisseries, Tony Al-Rami, said that “80 percent of restaurants, including top restaurants and establishments, have not been able to open.”

The president of the Syndicate of Tourist Establishments in South Lebanon, Ali Tabajah, said that “95 percent of the establishments in the south could not open because they were unable to pay rent or even buy goods.”

The head of the Syndicate of Car Rental Agencies, Mohammed Daqduq, highlighted that “25 percent of car rental companies have closed, and there are 700 unemployed families because this sector depends 76 percent on expatriates and foreign tourists.”

The head of the Syndicate of Maritime Firms, Jean Beiruty, said: “Domestic tourism is not possible due to the high exchange rate of the dollar, and 80 percent of maritime firms did not open because their maintenance licenses have not been completed.”

Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents, warned that “the inability to transfer money abroad will lead companies to withdraw from Lebanon.”

Ibrahim Al-Zaidi, head of the Syndicate of Restaurants in the Southern Suburbs of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, said that “the main problem lies in the dollar exchange rate.”

“The victim is not the restaurant sector alone, but also the employees who lost their salaries,” he said.

Following the disturbances during the protests on Saturday former Prime Minister Saad Hariri attended a meeting held on Tuesday by the Supreme Islamic Legislative Council in Dar Al-Fatwa. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian presided over the meeting. The council, which includes Sunni figures, called on the government to “impose control on the entire Lebanese territory, including stopping smuggling through the Lebanese-Syrian border, adjusting the exchange rate of the dollar, and addressing the random price hikes that are burdening citizens.”

The council accused “infiltrators, who were among the peaceful protesters last Saturday, of attacking the security forces and carrying out acts of sabotage of public and private property.” The council demanded that an investigation be held and the instigators of the riots that took place in Beirut’s streets be held accountable.

The council warned against “igniting the fire of sectarian strife in light of the offensive slogans that targeted a religious figure,” demanding that the perpetrators be held accountable. It also called on Muslims in Lebanon to “rise above the strife-inciting hate speech and adhere to the spiritual and patriotic values that make Lebanon the country of coexistence.”

In the Palace of Justice in Beirut, the head of the Beirut Bar Association, Melhem Khalaf, stressed that “dialogue is the only way to restore what has been destroyed by the crises.” He said: “We will not allow our unity to be targeted.”


Iranian missiles land close to ship, 100 miles from US aircraft carrier strike group in Indian Ocean

Iranian missiles land close to ship, 100 miles from US aircraft carrier strike group in Indian Ocean
Updated 47 sec ago

Iranian missiles land close to ship, 100 miles from US aircraft carrier strike group in Indian Ocean

Iranian missiles land close to ship, 100 miles from US aircraft carrier strike group in Indian Ocean
  • At least two other Iranian ballistic missiles exploded on impact when they hit the ocean
  • Nimitz has remained in the northern Arabian Sea on the orders of outgoing President Donald Trump

LONDON: Long-range Iranian missiles rained down dangerously close to a commercial ship in the Indian Ocean on Saturday and 100 miles from the US Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group, Fox News reported. 

US officials, who wished to remain anonymous, said that at least one of the missiles landed 20 miles from the commercial vessel.

At least two other Iranian ballistic missiles exploded on impact when they hit the ocean, about 100 miles away from the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group.

Shards of debris flew in all directions on impact, the US news channel said. 

"We were expecting the missile launch," an official told Fox News, but there was concern about just how close Iran was willing to push its limits. 

Nimitz has remained in the northern Arabian Sea on the orders of outgoing President Donald Trump.

The Pentagon changed its mind and ordered the Nimitz to turn around and remain in the region earlier this month after it left the Arabian Gulf and was due to return home.

“Due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other US government officials, I have ordered the USS Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment,” Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said on January 3. 

“The USS Nimitz will now remain on station in the US Central Command area of operations.”

January 3 marked the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The Islamic Republic has vowed to avenge the general’s death.