Eid in Lebanon overshadowed by virus lockdown, economic crisis

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Streets in Beirut were empty and shops and markets closed, as security patrols enforced a shutdown that will continue until Monday. (AN photo)
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Streets in Beirut were empty and shops and markets closed, as security patrols enforced a shutdown that will continue until Monday. (AN photo)
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Streets in Beirut were empty and shops and markets closed, as security patrols enforced a shutdown that will continue until Monday. (AN photo)
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Streets in Beirut were empty and shops and markets closed, as security patrols enforced a shutdown that will continue until Monday. (AN photo)
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Streets in Beirut were empty and shops and markets closed, as security patrols enforced a shutdown that will continue until Monday. (AN photo)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Eid in Lebanon overshadowed by virus lockdown, economic crisis

  • Lebanese Ministry of Tourism chiefs have allowed sweets shops to open during Eid for takeaway and delivery services only, with restaurants and fast-food outlets given the green light to trade under the same restrictions

BEIRUT: Eid Al-Adha celebrations in Lebanon were on Thursday overshadowed by economic gloom and the first day of lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Any festive spirit was knocked flat as official figures showed the number of COVID-19 cases in the country having shot up to 4,250, with 55 deaths.
Streets in the capital Beirut were empty and shops and markets closed, as security patrols enforced a shutdown that will continue until Monday. The COVID-19 pandemic combined with the country’s financial crisis has left many cash-strapped Lebanese unable to enjoy traditional Hajj season rituals.
Beirut butcher shop owner, Mohammed Oleylat, said: “I used to slaughter between 40 and 50 sheep (for Eid), however, I only had two clients today asking to buy sheep. Each sheep costs $300 now, which equates to 2.4 million Lebanese pounds on the black market.
“On the eve of Eid Al-Adha, customers neither ordered meat for barbecues nor lamb necks. Those used to be cooked for the festivities, but today, they are only ordering meat to add to dishes. Circumstances are difficult for everyone.
“I could not afford to buy any clothes for my children or sweets. I gave my wife 100,000 Lebanese pounds and I asked her to make do,” he added.
The owner of a children’s clothes shop in the Barbeer neighborhood of Beirut, who would only give their name as Sami, said: “We rely on Eid Al-Adha for sales. Last year, the situation was bad, but it seems worse this year.
“People are not buying clothes. Their priorities are now providing food and water if they can afford them. Prices have multiplied and resources diminished. There is no electricity. There is a pandemic and collapse of the Lebanese pound. People are frustrated.”
Mom-of-three Ghada Houweily said she normally bought new clothes for her children at Eid. “This is how I was brought up, and this is how I want to raise my children. However, I will not buy anything this year. A cotton T-shirt for a 6-year-old costs 169,000 Lebanese pounds. How is that possible?
“We decided to go to the beach instead of buying new clothes, but due to the lockdown decision, we will have to stay at home. I have never experienced anything like this in my life.
“I consider myself middle-class, and some of my friends whose economic situation was better than mine are now at rock bottom. I am severely frustrated, and my kids are depressed. My husband is working hard to make ends meet but we do not know when this collective punishment will end,” Houweily added.
Lebanese Ministry of Tourism chiefs have allowed sweets shops to open during Eid for takeaway and delivery services only, with restaurants and fast-food outlets given the green light to trade under the same restrictions.
Nicolas Chammas, president of the Beirut Traders’ Association, told Arab News: “The situation is desperate. We waited for Eid Al-Adha and summer to make up for our losses on Eid Al-Fitr, Christmas, and last new year, but the situation has become worse. All factors have overlapped, and our losses have increased.”
He added that over the past nine months a quarter of businesses in Beirut had been forced to close due to the country’s crises, and he expected a similar proportion to go to the wall over the next six months.
Nassib Gemayel, president of Mount Lebanon Trade Association, called on the government to reconsider its lockdown decision given the “catastrophic damage” caused to the commercial sector.
In Tripoli, tour boat owners blocked the corniche and torched bins in protest at being banned from working over Eid.


Erdogan says only solution in Mediterranean is dialogue

Updated 13 August 2020

Erdogan says only solution in Mediterranean is dialogue

  • Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, are vehemently at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region

ANKARA: President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the only solution to Turkey’s dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean was through dialogue and negotiation, and Ankara was not chasing any “adventures” in the region.
Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, are vehemently at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region, and tensions have risen since Ankara launched exploration operations in a disputed area of the Mediterranean on Monday, in a move Greece called illegal.
Speaking to members of his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said the escalation of tensions in the region was caused by Greece, and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights. “The path to a solution in the eastern Mediterranean is via dialogue and negotiation. We are not chasing any unnecessary adventures or seeking tensions,” he said.