Amid the holidays and the crisis, the Christmas spirit is nearly lost

February 4, 2024



2023 is nearly here and the economic crisis still has a firm grasp on Lebanon without any sign of a better future. Maybe there is still hope somewhere. The end of the year means major holidays.

Even if the people in Lebanon give it their all every year, the shadows of the crisis remain their Christmas’s Grinch, looming in the air, causing anxiety and stress instead of joy in this season.
The exchange rate is at its peak, the inflation has reached the point of no return, and the presidential election seems to be on an eternal calculated hold. Nonetheless, as the holidays vibes kick in, various touristic attractions such as restaurants, hotels and bars are fully booked, and ski resorts are waiting for the big snow, ready for this season’s energy.

As you walk down the dark streets of Beirut this year, the memory of the extravagant decorations of the past and the way it made you feel, hit you with a feeling of sadness.
If you speak with store owners or managers, they tell you that everything has changed.
A big number of people today don’t go gift shopping or don’t even buy holiday clothes, letting go of the basic holiday traditions in order to stay within budget. Thus, stores suffer a deficit.

Prices are out of reach, power outages are preventing celebrations, and the gigantic gap between the black market’s exchange rate and wages is forcing people to economize this upcoming holiday.

If you would ask a tourist about poverty in Lebanon, he would tell you about the constant decrease in the currency value and power shortages, insisting that Lebanese people are fine and that poverty, if existed, is well hidden. When you think that holidays are here to unveil the real situation, it might not be that easy this year.
While citizens save their every purchase, there is optimism, hope and reliance on the money tourists will bring even though no real changes were made to make the country remotely hospitable.

Touristic projects might never be enough to attract people to celebrate their holidays somewhere in the middle of a constant conflict, absence of a political chain, of reforms, of actions to change things or even real progress with the presidential election. They would prefer to go to countries like Turkey or Egypt. Countries that are great touristic destinations, close and cheaper, especially now that custom taxes increased ten times which will lead to an even lower purchasing power not only for citizens but tourists too.

However, Lebanon will always have its diaspora standing next to it like always, reviving family traditions in those dark times. But is that enough to resurrect the Lebanese Lira again the way it is anticipated? Will it help the economy and allow the Lebanese to breathe better while waiting for a better tomorrow?