The dollar crisis has been on an uprise in Lebanon for over three months, way before the Lebanese 17 October Revolution started. It has gotten to a bleak point where the small businesses are closing their doors, while others are paying employees half salaries or increasing the prices of products significantly.
The dollar reached a solid 2,200 LPB in the black market. Exchange markets were charging 1,800-2,200 LBP for a dollar, all while exchanging dollar with the normal price in Lebanese Lira, which is 1,512 LPB. Banks ceased on giving people dollars, and marketers, as well as dealers, refused to get paid with the Lebanese Pound.
Traders usually buy products in dollars and sell them in Lebanese pound, and with a monetary crisis that was based on the rise in the value of the dollar currency against the national currency, businesses and people, in general, were just falling downhill.
The current economic situation is in no way comforting to the Lebanese people residing in Lebanon, and also to the Lebanese expatriates who are trying to transfer money into the country and to their families.
To make things worse, people in Turkey have discovered that the current exchange rate of the Lebanese Pound in Istanbul Airport is 5000 LPB for one dollar, which is actually more than triple the exchange rate of the Lebanese Central Bank.
In a tweet, Lebanese user Sary Dergham posted a video showing an exchange of 100,000 LPB for 21$ in Istanbul Airport. He captioned the video saying; “does the [Lebanese] president know that today in Istanbul Airport when you want to 100,000 LBP, you get approximately 20$?”
The tweet continues with: “Expatriates have been exchanging one dollar for 5000 LBP, which means that 500,000 LPB should be paid in exchange of 100$ before returning back to Lebanon. #LebanonRising.”
هل يعلم فخامة الرئيس ان اليوم بمطار اسطنبول عندما تريد تصريف مبلغ قدره ١٠٠ ألف ليرة لبنانية تحصل بالمقابل على ٢٠دولار تقريباً؟
Many have reacted to the video with disbelief. However, some explained the reason why the exchange rate maybe this high.
A twitter user explained that only hard currencies like the Dollar and the Euro maintain their value even if spent abroad. Which means that not only the Lebanese Pound is affected outside, but also the Russian Ruble or South African Rand.
عزيزي ساري.. للأمانة هيدي الحالة مش جديدة وما دخل الأزمة بالموضوع فقط العملات الصعبة كالدولار واليورو بتحافظ على قيمتها عند تصريفها بالخارج. يعني نفس الشي بينطبق عالروبل الروسي أو الجنيه المصري الخ
Nonetheless, even though the value of soft currencies can easily be affected abroad, the exchange rate of the Lebanese Pound still hits rock bottom when it devalues 3 times its actual rate in its home country.