Dubai, VAE In the wake of the Beirut blast last year, Lebanon witnessed great political instability at home and a diplomatic rift with Gulf countries as its economy went into free fall with increasing poverty and increasing discontent.
According to a recent Al Jazeera report, three-quarters of Lebanon’s population now lives in poverty, the Lebanese pound has lost about 90 percent of its value against the US dollar. Much of public life has been paralyzed due to power outages, staggering food and fuel inflation, and drug shortages.
While those problems exist at home, the mood within the Lebanon pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 is one of hope, optimism and of holding on to opportunities.
“Lebanon has been through so much lately – from the explosion to the economy, the revolution and then COVID. The presence of this pavilion is in itself a real achievement and a measure of success, ”pavilion staff Antoine Char told Al Jazeera.
“We have decided to have this slogan ‘Walk with us’ here at the pavilion, because whatever has happened and whatever is going to happen in Lebanon, we are still standing. The diaspora helps us. We are responsible for our future and for changing everything, because we have to show the world that the past is over and now we are going for a change. ”
As visitors enter the pavilion, they are greeted by large projector screens and loud music, depicting life in the “Switzerland of the East”, Char added.
A handicraft and artifact exhibition is followed by more screens, where visitors can sit on swings and “embrace the whole experience” of being in the middle of Lebanon.
“Our goal is to show how Lebanon is rising again and trying to improve its economy,” Ludmilla Medawar, founder of lebanesesignature.com, told Al Jazeera.
“We formed the platform during COVID containment and now, as you can see from the products we have here at Expo 2020, how people have moved forward there and started creating their own Lebanese distinctive products.”