Lebanon’s economic collapse: Staring into the abyss

Levant's Agora

By Birgit Svensson.

Lebanon was long viewed as the Switzerland of the Middle East. Until relatively recently, billions were deposited in its banks. Gulf states were among the foremost investors in Beirut. But this all came to an end in 2019. Now the troubled nation is gripped by the worst economic crisis in its history.

A little girl sits at the bottom of the steps leading to the library and café Barzakh on Beirut’s famous – or to be more precise, once-famous – shopping street, Hamra Street. The stars embedded in the pavement are reminiscent of the ones on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, except the ones on Hamra Street are pitifully faded, just like the entire country.

Mira is begging for food, not for money or chocolate as children so often do in the Middle East. That’s because Mira is hungry – and the six-year-old is not alone. “People…

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