Named among the top 5 cities that never sleep by USA Today, Beirut has now another story to tell, forcefully.
The cats of Hamra have been walking down the isles, searching for their humans. Climbing up Mezyan’s balcony, where cats always find someone to give them some of their Rocca and halloumi salad, they refuse to see Beirut as a ghost town.
They walked from Hamra to Mar Mikhael, with no cars to chase, nor old men to follow. They stagger in the middle of the streets, worried that they are the only ones left around.
Beirut has never been under complete lockdown, nor as comatose as it is today. Even throughout the 15 years of war, it still breathed some people here and there, and some places opened, like the Iconic Barbar restaurant.
The Civil War was as devastating as one can speak, but it did not turn Beirut into a ghost town.
With most of Beirut’s stores and restaurants closed down, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the people of Beirut where it hurts them the most.
Hot chocolate with the family has replaced the late-night talks at Younes Cafe in Bliss Street, and dancing on balconies has replaced partying at the Grand Factory. The lockdown has many ups and downs, but the Lebanese people are realizing the harsh necessity.
Beirut’s city lamps are twinkling in the empty night, lighting up the streets for the cats to follow. Just like the 1975 civil war, the city knows well that its people did not abandon it. They are just protecting themselves from the current war.
The lockdown: is it forever?
Even though the general mobilization has started on Saturday, March 15th, it sure feels like it has been forever. The people in Lebanon, just like around the world, are slowly trying to cope.
The initial decision states that the general mobilization ends on Sunday, March 29th. With the rising number of COVID-19 cases, it is likely that the government will extend the time.
Scroll down for more photos by Nabil Ismail depicting Beirut as a ghost town at night:
The Lebanese photographer Nabil Ismail explained that the photos were taken at 7:00 pm as the people of Beirut committed to home quarantine.
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