Lebanon's suffering Roman ruins

Lebanon’s breath-taking Baalbek ruins - once a must-see attraction for thousands of visitors from around the world.

Now almost entirely empty of tourists.

The combined impact of the global health crisisand Lebanon’s deep economic crisis is casting a shadow over the UNESCO heritage site, where we find 78 year-old tour-guide, Ali Raad.

"It makes me sad to enter the temples and see them empty but for very few tourists while in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s even in the 1990s, you would feel that Baalbek was full of people and it was a source of income to all residents and for the municipality. Now you do not find anyone but very few people at noon, some Lebanese groups or school students."

Lebanon has been grappling with one of the world’s sharpest economic depressions.

Corruption and the mismanagement of funds used to rebuild the country following a lengthy civil war, led to financial collapse in 2019. And for this historic site, that’s resulted in the lights going out.

"The temples used to be lit all around, now it is dark everywhere due to the unfair power cuts all over Lebanon, with no lights at night, you feel it is abandoned."

For Ali and many like him involved in Lebanon’s tourist industry, they hope one day soon both the lights and visitors will return.

But with some three quarters of the population trapped in poverty, rebuilding will be a monumental task ahead.

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