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Baalbek Festival goes virtual in crisis-hit Lebanon

Published: Updated:

Lebanon’s annual Baalbek Festival was held Friday in virtual form with the famed Roman ruins a part of its backdrop, as an expression of hope in the crisis-hit country.

The program of 10 performances, a mixture of jazz, Indie rock, rap, hip rock and electro pop, filmed last month at Roman sites across the Bekaa Valley of east Lebanon, including Baalbek itself, was broadcast on Lebanese television and streamed on the internet.

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“We are in an economic and health crisis, and we wanted to give young Lebanese artists who continue to produce and show creativity a platform for their art,” said the festival’s president, Nayla de Freige.

“Another message is to offer a moment of happiness and to dream... to show another face of Lebanon, to transform the pain into hope,” she told AFP.

Festival organizers chose the slogan “shine on Lebanon, defying darkness with music” for its 2021 edition.

Lebanon faces what the World Bank says is probably one of the world’s worst economic crises since the 1850s, compounded by the coronavirus epidemic and the mega blast at Beirut port last August that killed more than 200 people and devastated swathes of the capital.