Jun 16 2020 - 08:25
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Beirut's nightlife on the brink as pandemic compounds financial crisis

Beirut loves to party, even when the going gets tough, which is often. The city and its nightlife Lebanon, news ,lbci ,أخبار Financial Crisis, Pandemic, Nightlife,Beirut,Beirut loves to party, even when the going gets tough, which is often. The city and its nightlife
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Lebanon News
Beirut loves to party, even when the going gets tough, which is often. The city and its nightlife have weathered wars, bombing campaigns and assassinations, and prides itself on always bouncing back.

But this time is different, say Beirut bar and restaurant owners, who fear that a devastating financial crisis, compounded by the global coronavirus pandemic, may finally be their undoing.
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At Le Pecheur, a 20-year-old seafood restaurant, a veteran waiter stood at the entrance, armed with a face shield and antiseptic spray, on the first weekend after the government lifted restrictions on June 1. There were no customers.

"I have been through the civil war as a child. We saw dead people and shells exploding, but wherever you went, no one ever said they had no money, or they can't afford to eat," said Ahmad Kassem, 49, Le Pecheur's owner.

"Now, we have people around us with empty stomachs. No work, no money."

Since late last year, Lebanon's local currency has lost more than 60 percent of its value, as prices soar. The crisis has slashed jobs, fuelled unrest and pushed the government to seek aid it badly needs from the IMF.

Hundreds of restaurants, cafes and bars have closed in a country where the service industry was long a pillar of the economy and employed a big chunk of the workforce.

Meanwhile, waiters at Baron, a restaurant that can seat 200 people in a hip district of Beirut, served a lone table.

Industry leaders had only received empty promises of help from the government as banks cut access to cash and credit facilities, according to Baron's founder Etienne Sabbagh.

Across the city in the Hamra district, home to some of Lebanon's oldest nightlife spots, Barometer was one of the few drinking holes open that weekend. The bar, open for 24 years, has lived through all that has befallen Beirut in that time, including two wars with Israel.
 
 
 
 
REUTERS
 
 
 
To watch the full report, please click on the video above.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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