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Updated July 31, For over years, a hotel has mirrored Lebanon's changing fortunes like no other. It's now facing a peril unseen in its storied history. And as long 35 mature amateur women in lebanon those temples are there, we're OK. Rima Husseini gazes out of a Palmyra Hotel window to the monumental Roman ruins, which have drawn travellers along the ancient tourist trail to the Lebanese town of Baalbek for centuries.
The ancient ruins are empty. Outside, the modern state of Lebanon is failing and people in Baalbek are hungry. The coronavirus outbreak is making a dire situation even worse. Rima is the owner of the Palmyra Hotel, one of Lebanon's national treasures and an embodiment 35 mature amateur women in lebanon the faded hope of a prosperous and cosmopolitan Lebanon. It was once the haunt of royals, divas and intrepid travellers who ventured deep into the Bekaa Valley to see the ruins and soak up some of the lawless spirit that people here proudly say still defines them.
Two thousand years after they were erected, the stone pillars of the Temple of Jupiter are silhouetted against the snow-capped Mount Lebanon range. It's our third visit to the Palmyra to interview Rima about the political and economic strife engulfing her nation, and this is the saddest. Each time there have been fewer guests.
Now it's just us. The once-busy road through the mountains from Beirut to Baalbek has emptied. The shutters on the roide shops are down and volunteers patrol neighbourhoods enforcing a coronavirus lockdown. The locals are on their own here. The government can offer little help and it's left to private citizens to make up for the state's failings. Parked out the front of the ageing Ottoman-era hotel is an armoured vehicle with a bored Lebanese soldier slumped over a machine-gun, a reminder of the dangers in this valley and the Syrian border less than 10km away. Cocteau stayed at the Palmyra in the s and 60s during Lebanon's halcyon days, when Baalbek's annual music festival attracted big crowds to see outdoor performances from stars like Joan Baez, Ella Fitzgerald and Charles Mingus.
In the 60s, Lebanon was soaring.
Beirut was a regional business hub, the meeting point between Europe and the Middle East where you could do deals by day and party by night. And then came war. Lebanon's Bekaa Valley became infamous for extremist groups, not celebrities, and the Baalbek festival closed for 22 years, from Now, as ever, the empty Palmyra seems to mirror Lebanon's changing fortunes. But the gloom lifts when Rima walks in the door.
Can you imagine the heritage? The history? She's not just a hotelier but also a Beirut lawyer, university lecturer and passionate human rights advocate, charging hard at the problems that are overwhelming not just the Palmyra but the entire country. As the coronavirus wave crashed down on Lebanon, her nation was in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, the nation's currency has halved in value in six months and people's savings are locked up in inaccessible bank s. They're demanding an end to the endemic corruption, incompetence and political cronyism they say is destroying their lives and their country.
The revolution has drawn together people from across Lebanese society — young and old, rich and poor, Muslim, Christian and Druze. They've laid off all but essential staff, closed down parts of the hotel and run heating only when essential. There are no guests and now there are no prospects of visitors for months, or longer. Rima had thought might be a great year for the hotel. Tourists long deterred by the Syrian war were starting to return, until mass protests in Lebanon sparked international travel warnings and killed tourism overnight. How and in what form, I can't say.
We are the guardians of this place. It's for everyone. Rima's sense of responsibility extends beyond the hotel, which is surrounded by some of the poorest areas in 35 mature amateur women in lebanon. In a nearby building, Rima runs a free health clinic for local women.
The building also serves as a depot for donations of food gathered by her network of friends in Beirut. Cardboard boxes are loaded with a month's supply of basic foodstuffs like oil, rice and chickpeas to be distributed to hard-hit families. You can't imagine the need, especially in the past three or four months," she says. The small financial support from the political parties has ceased and there is really no money for food. He can't 35 mature amateur women in lebanon to run his home's petrol-burning heater, so his wife and five-year-old son have moved in with his in-laws.
It's warmer there, which is crucial for the health of his wife Hanin, who is in remission from lung cancer. She should be taking drugs to boost her suppressed immune system, but the family can't afford them, which is a real problem as coronavirus sweeps through Lebanon. 35 mature amateur women in lebanon heavily indebted state can't pay its own bills — in March, it defaulted on its debt instalments for the first time in its history.
Residents must pay for private generators because the government can't provide reliable power, and the water is unsafe to drink. Rima grew up during Lebanon's year civil war, notorious for the shelling of civilian districts, cycles of revenge killings and the deliberate murder of non-combatants by sectarian militias. A sniper was on the roof.
He died," she says, as if it was an ordinary event. She takes some comfort from the fact that she was able to see him in hospital before he died. There were many stories of fathers who "went out and never came back," she says. Rima's father-in-law Hussein El-Husseini, who founded then reed from the Shia-Muslim Amal movement, brokered the peace talks that led to the end of the war in Rima was at his side as translator during crucial negotiations. She's proud of today's young, modern revolutionaries who could not care less about each other's religious affiliation.
Suddenly people realise that what they've been feeding us about dissension, about sectarian rivalry, is not true. Rima and her family have relocated to Baalbek from their apartment in Beirut to wait out the pandemic. Besides, Rima's been here before. The Bekaa Valley has been off-limits for tourists for considerable periods of the last four decades. The emptiness I feel will end," she says. As we say goodbye and prepare to leave the Palmyra, Rima shows us where a tree has come crashing down in the hotel grounds, demolishing a Roman-era statue and knocking it into a dried-up pond.
The wreckage of something that was once so grand seems an apt metaphor for the state of Lebanon right now. As we depart through the empty streets, the lack of tourists, the devastating economic failure — it can seem overwhelming.
Whenever I feel too low I look at that and think 'as long as those stones are standing, we will endure'. Topics: covidworld-politicsunrest-conflict-and-warlebanon. First posted May 05, Contact Matt Henry. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content.
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By Ahmed Yussuf. Her first fight was at age 13, facing an opponent over a decade her senior — an early indication that Caitlin Parker was to become no ordinary boxer.
Now, she's a chance of making boxing history. By Hayley Gleeson. As a cultural moment, it's undeniably huge, but the question now is: will political leaders take the rage and grief behind these marches seriously? By Penny Travers.
Corry Collins didn't take up running until she was Now 84, she's setting world and national athletics records. Corporate psychopaths cost the economy billions of dollars not only through fraud and other crimes but through the personal and organisational damage they leave behind as they climb the corporate ladder. Foreign Correspondent. Photo: Hotelier, lawyer and university lecturer, Rima Husseini is also a passionate advocate for change in Lebanon.
She runs a health clinic behind the Palmyra to help make up for the state's failure to help the poor in Baalbek. Foreign Correspondent: Cherine Yazbeck. Photo: The Palmyra Hotel has never closed its doors in years, according to its owner. It's a living, creaking history of Lebanon. Photo: Baalbek has been on the tourist trail 35 mature amateur women in lebanon the Romans began building temples here in the first century BC. Photo: The vast temples of Baalbek are among the great monumental feats of the ancient world.
They should be full of tourists but Lebanon's fall in to chaos is keeping travellers away. Photo: Kings, queens, artists, poets - the Palmyra once welcomed an illustrious cast of international guests visiting the ruins of Baalbek when Lebanon was at its height. Photo: This is as close to Lebanon's parliament building as the protesters can get. A wall marks the edge of the forbidden zone in Beirut's downtown. 35 mature amateur women in lebanon There's been a six-month slide towards total financial meltdown in Lebanon.
Many citizens are calling for "thawra", or revolution. Photo: Masks to protect against tear gas have become a symbol of resistance on the streets of Beirut. Photo: After a year civil war ended inthe centre of Beirut was immaculately restored. It now lies derelict, scarred by political upheaval.
Photo: A staff member with few guests to serve at the Palmyra Hotel. With worsening political upheaval and now the new coronavirus, the hotel is struggling to stay open. Photo: In some parts of Lebanon, there's often no power and the water is unsafe to drink. Half of the country's population could soon be living in poverty in a nation that already hosts over 1 million refugees.
Photo: Rima Husseini blames a decade of Lebanese government neglect for the poor living conditions in the Bekaa Valley. She fears what will happen to the vulnerable during the pandemic. Photo: Imad Awad lost his job as a painter a year ago and is struggling to pay for his son Mohammed's school and his wife Hanin's medicine. Unemployment in Lebanon doubled in four months. Photo: Imad fears for his wife Hanin's fragile health in the coronavirus outbreak. He wishes that the virus would take him and spare his wife. Photo: Rima Husseini fears for Lebanon lacks the capacity for a swift recovery after the coronavirus lockdown.
Photo: A young Rima Husseini acted 35 mature amateur women in lebanon a translator to help her father-in-law broker the talks that ended the civil war in Photo: Like the streets of Beirut, Baalbek and its famed hotel have become ghost towns in the coronavirus lockdown. But protesters could soon be back on the streets of the capital in force as restrictions lift. Photo: While the economic situation is bleak, the vista beyond the Palmyra's doors remains breathtaking.
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