Coming together for Beirut

(Image: hayat_nazer_v on Instagram)

Earlier this year, Hayat Nazer, an artist and an activist from Lebanon, created an amazing and inspiring sculpture she called “Liberty for Women.” She created the sculpture by collecting broken items she found in her Beirut house following the massive explosion that rocked the city in August 2020.

Beirut is a beautiful city. Lebanon’s capital is one of my favorite summer destinations – since 2006 my family and friends have often traveled to Beirut in August, to escape the summer heat in the Gulf, and spent our summer in the much cooler Lebanese weather.

Traditionally, Arabs from all across the Middle East travel to Beirut on an annual basis, as it is the perfect destination for a vacation. The city has a number of world-class hotels and it is filled with historical venues and also offers beautiful sceneries between the mountains and the beach. It is also the perfect location for foodies and people who enjoy shopping.

With so much on offer, it is no surprise that Beirut is very close to everyone’s heart in the Middle East.

(Image: iStock)

Like many, I was sad when, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and I could not go on our annual trip to Lebanon. However, that was not the only thing to happen which hit hard.

When on August 4, 2020, a massive amount of ammonium nitrate exploded in the port of Beirut, on the city's northern Mediterranean coast, I – together with much of the world, was speechless.

The blast destroyed the immediate dockside area, creating a crater approximately 140 m (460 ft) wide, which was flooded with seawater. The supersonic blast wave caused at least 190 deaths and US$10-15 billion in property damage, leaving 6,500 people injured and an estimated 300,000 homeless.

(Image: iStock)

The incident left the world heartbroken. And yet, my heart leaped when I saw how people banded together, and how from across the world, countries and organizations pledged their support and offered assistance. 

(Image: DHL)

In Islam, giving back to the community and supporting others is extremely important, as we believe that the responsibility of those who have received their wealth from God is to respond back to those members of the community who might be in need. The whole concept of wealth in Islam is considered as a gift from God.

In my home country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, directed urgent humanitarian aid to be sent from the Kingdom to Lebanon, and it was heartwarming to see communities come together to donate, and governments around the world send aid and donations.

(Image: DHL)

What also touched me personally was the bravery and can-do spirit of DHL colleagues in Beirut. Despite their obvious challenges, the team kept going.  “We are unstoppable, fired up and ready to connect you and the Lebanese community to the world,” said Rita Abi Mansour, Country Manager of DHL Global Forwarding.

As we are nearing the end of a tough year, I believe Beirut, despite the tragedy, shows us there is always hope. The world is joining forces to support Beirut and I believe people will continue to do so till they see the city rise again. Human spirit conquers all.

Published: November 2020