Lebanon’s airport is under lockdown and completely closed since Wednesday, March 20th, isolating Lebanon from the rest of the world. The busy airport that has been shut down before only by wars, is now shut down by a virus.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has snuck into Lebanon through Beirut’s Rafik Al-Hariri airport, riding from aircraft to aircraft, infecting passengers, and setting its sail on the soil of Lebanon.
This virus may have exceeded Ibn Batuta with the number of countries it visited in three months, but it certainly is the most unwelcome tourist the countries have ever encountered.
Even in Lebanon, the country that is known for its generosity and hospitality (and tolerance), cannot wait for the virus’s departure to an unknown destination. It has proved to be a burdened visitor at most.
The Lebanese photographer Nabil Ismail portrays what he calls “Coronavirus, the Dictatorship” in haunting images showing Lebanon’s airport empty like never before.
Few hours before the airport shutdown, Ismail caught through his lens the last goodbyes of those leaving; fear crippling down their spine as they leave Lebanon without knowing when they might come back.
No cars were parking and double parking and sometimes even triple parking as usual outside the airport, and no security force fining those parked for so long.
The staff of MiddleEast Airlines MEA prepared themselves for the last flight of the season, thinking of the long weeks of necessary home quarantine awaiting them.
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