Lebanon, the country of the vine, dignity, light and craftsmanship began has begun to wither away little by little, and despair began to reach its people, and sadness invaded faces that had never known anything but smiles and joy.
I arrived in Lebanon a few days ago, and saw the devastation of the country. Two days later, I left for Cyprus and came back to find greater ruin and more pain waiting for me.
There is no power supply and if it is there, it lasts for an hour and the solution is total dependence on diesel generator, if it is available and if there is money to buy it. The situation is almost unaffordable. Add to this the state’s inability to supply gasoline to gas stations which has resulted in long queues of cars and motorcycles. Motorists and motorcyclists have to wait for long hours in the heat and suffocating humidity, and as usual, the Lebanese have worked hard to create black, white and purple markets – whatever you can call them — to sell gallons of fuel to those who pay more. The US dollar is almost equal to 20 thousand Lebanese pounds.
Falafel sandwich is sold for 8,500 pounds, grilled chicken for 55,000, a packet of local cigarettes costs 8,000 pounds and imported 19,000 pounds. A gallon of water costs 10,000 pounds, a tank of gasoline 72,000, which cost 22,000 pounds for a long time.
As for the famous dish of hummus, its price exceeded twenty thousand pounds, and the same goes with the rest of the materials and services.
The ordeal prompted many to consume Lebanese products, which became very difficult to export in the Gulf. The Lebanese citizen, “the dishonest of course,” has also played a vital role in increasing the plight of his deplorable brother by profiting from smuggling fuel to Syria, where the price is higher.
As for medicines, they are sold on the black market and their prices are controlled but they are almost non-existent in pharmacies, after the owners went on strike and closed them after refusing to sell medicines at the price determined by the government. Medicines today are the best gift that a traveler can take to Lebanon for friends and acquaintances, even tablets for headaches and colds.
On the surface, things look almost normal, when you look at them from a distance it is crystal clear the situation has reached a boiling point and this is evidenced by waving of hands, anger, the manner of speaking and during the most trivial issues guns can be pulled out any moment.
In the midst of all this the road blocks are everywhere, traffic is diverted without reason other than to make people angry and insult the government. This is done by people who are the cause of all this harm and the collapse of morals and principles.
No one knows the fate of his/her money deposited in Lebanese banks. A professional novelist can write dozens of wonderful stories about the fate that befell hundreds of thousands of depositors who lost everything overnight; some their entire property and savings, whether it was in the lira, which fell from 1,500 to the dollar to 20,000. The banks are unable to pay because they do not have enough in their treasuries or in their accounts with the Central Bank.
Talking about Lebanon, the high cost of water, food, and medicine, and Lebanon’s sects, parties, leaders, assassinations, fraud, creativity, mercy and humanity is long and endless. Every day there are a thousand funerals, in exchange for a thousand joys, and as if the world will never end.
By Ahmad alsarraf
‘If I die, bury me next to a vine tree
My bones will be watered by my veins after my death
Do not bury me in the wilderness,
I’m afraid if I die …’
— Abu Mihjan Al-Thaqafi
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