Syrian crisis threatens Beirut's standing as "Paris of the Middle East"
Once known as “Paris of the Middle East”, Beirut now suffers from bloody bomb attacks and the long-lasting civil war in Syria. The ongoing conflict in and outside of the country has hit the tourism industry very hard that most tourist destinations in this enchanting place reminds of a ghost city.
Its historic streets once attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists all around the world are abandoned. Except the fact that no tourists dare to come and visit the country anymore; even Lebanese prefer to stay at home and only go out if necessary. With its isolated coffee shops and restaurants, Beirut seems to have lost its old charm.
Hüsam Singer, one of the shop keepers in Beirut, said most of the tourists started to leave the country after the assassination of the prime minister Rafic Hariri in 2005. Noting that the situation has got worsen during the last two years with beginning of the Syrian crisis, Singer said, “Tourism is not the only source of income in Lebanon.The economy in Lebanon is closely related to the Lebanese people who live in abroad. These people used to spend their summer in Lebanon; but now they do not come for safety reasons. Security problem and Syria have affected the tourism very heavily, and the recent bombings as well.”
Another Lebanese businessman who has a coffee shop along the cost side, Randa Chatila also complained about the decreasing number of visitors. Saying that the situation in the county is so bad and all the events happening in the Middle East have been affecting almost everything in the country. Chatila asked the political leaders to keep the country united.