Beirut explosion: Lebanese community ships 138 tonnes of glass to Beirut from UAE

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Last Tuesday, millions of Lebanese people around the world watched in horror as footage emerged of the deadly explosion in Beirut shattering lives across the city.

One concerned onlooker was Abu Dhabi-based Lebanese businessman Sufyan al-Saleh who immediately began thinking of ways to help his homeland.

“I was sitting at home, watching the horrible footage and wondering about the imminent need for the people of Beirut,” said al-Saleh, head of the Lebanese Business Council of Abu Dhabi (LBC), in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

In the span of one week, al-Saleh and the LBC have spearheaded two major initiatives: a UAE fundraiser and the shipment of 138 tonnes of glass from the UAE to Beirut.

The glass will be used for restoring windowpanes in one thousand homes in Lebanon’s capital city.

How people in UAE can support victims of Beirut explosion

The fundraiser, which began on Tuesday, is in partnership with Emirates Red Crescent and enables monetary donations to those suffering in Beirut through the UAE Red Crescent website, the toll-free phone number 800-733, and the Emirates RC mobile application.

The funds will be used to procure and deliver urgently needed supplies and provisions to people in Beirut. The fundraiser ends on August 20.

In addition, those in the UAE can donate new clothing and bed linens, non-perishable food supplies, and medical supplies at any Red Crescent center in the UAE.

Glass for 1,000 homes in Beirut

On Wednesday, the Lebanese Business Council of Abu Dhabi also additionally facilitated the shipment of 138 tonnes of glass to Lebanon’s port of Tripoli.

Al-Saleh, who runs construction companies in Lebanon and the UAE, came up with the idea to ship glass for windowpanes while watching footage of the destruction.

“The explosion was huge, I saw the radius of the area affected and realized the immediate and greater area surrounding the explosion would all suffer from broken glass,” he said.

“My background in the construction business helped me to quickly understand the requirements of glazing, of the certain type of glass, and how to source and procure in the quickest time possible,” said al-Saleh.

Al-Saleh’s prediction proved correct. The streets of Beirut have had piles of shattered glass on their corners ever since the explosion, and homes and stores that had their windows blown out are still without secure facades.

“Because of the economic crisis in the country, there will be obstacles for people to repair their houses,” said al-Saleh, adding that the stock of glass in the country will likely soon dry up due to desperately needed repairs in Beirut.

The Lebanese Business Council of Abu Dhabi used its contacts in the Lebanese community in the UAE, as well as a partnership with the multinational courier company Aramex, to procure and transport enough glass to repair around 1,000 moderate size homes in Beirut.

Once the glass arrives in Beirut, a representative from the council and a major non-governmental organization (NGO) will help ensure proper distribution to those most in need.

“The glass will go to people of modest means, who have had their houses or stores totally exposed due to the impact of the explosion,” al-Saleh said.

The Lebanese community in the UAE is just one example of how Lebanon’s diaspora is mobilizing to help the country, which is facing unprecedented tragedy, economic and political unrest, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the daunting challenges, al-Saleh said he has hope for his country.

“I see the huge disaster - but I see behind the wreckage. Once it is cleared, I see a new Lebanon coming,” he said.

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