Each morning before dawn, Mohamad Kreiydye bids silent farewell to his sleeping family and begins the day’s hunt for fuel.

From his neighbourhood in central Beirut, he weaves his taxi through the city’s deserted streets to a local petrol station where a queue of cars has been forming overnight.

Around him, the skyline and buildings are dark, save for the occasional flickering of an advertisement billboard.

Beirut, the sprawling capital that was once known as the Paris of the Middle East, was for a long time a financial and cultural centre in the region.

Its waterfront cafes, bars and Mediterranean lifestyle were havens for a thriving Lebanese counter-culture and curious tourists alike.

But today, the lingering scars of a brutal civil war, decades of terminal leadership, ongoing economic ruin, a global pandemic and the catastrophic explosion of a cache of ammonium nitrate that killed more than 200 people last August, have left the city battered.


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