Beirut, Lebanon – As Lebanon continues to crumble, celebrating Eid al-Adha has become an afterthought for many Muslims in the crisis-hit nation.
In years past, the three-day holiday would be a time for abundant food, family gatherings and gifts. Now, Lebanon’s ever-spiralling economic crisis, political instability and shortages of basic necessities means Eid has become a luxury only a select few can afford.
With nearly 50 percent of the population now below the poverty line according to the World Bank, many residents of low-income Beirut suburbs such as Dahieh will now have to go without even the most common household products.
“We used to get sweets, take the kids out and have a nice meal, but this year there is nothing. We’ll sit at home,” Dahieh resident Sanaa Zein told Al Jazeera. “There’s no food, sweets or drinks and at most, we’ll make moujadara (a lentil and rice dish considered poor-man’s food).
“We’re able to afford 200g of meat a week, the rest of the week we’re eating potatoes and simple, cheap food like lentils and vegetarian dishes, and even those are now expensive,” she added. “Clothes for the Eid for my grandson are impossible. He doesn’t even know Eid is coming and maybe it’s best, so he doesn’t realise he’s missing anything.”
The resignation of former Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri last week plunged the Lebanese lira even further to record lows that show no sign of abating. At the time of writing, the lira was worth LL23,000 per dollar. For those relying on a Lebanese lira income, most salaries are no longer covering basic living costs.
“I thought about getting a litre of fresh milk to make rice pudding for Eid, since we can’t afford the pricier sweets like maamoul (date or nut-filled cookies) that we would make in past years, and that alone is LL60,000, before buying the sugar or rice,” Zein said. “There can be no treats this year. It’s best to just let Eid pass us by and not waste the money on such things.
“I always have to calculate what I can afford at the shops, how much money I have in my bag to purchase, how much things cost,” she added. “If it wasn’t for my children helping me out a little bit, I don’t know what would happen. In Lebanon there are now two types of people – the rich who are living life as if nothing has changed, and the rest of us who can barely afford to eat.”