Baalbek Festival goes virtual in crisis-hit Lebanon

Baalbek Festival goes virtual in crisis-hit Lebanon
Lebanon's annual Baalbek Music Festival has been held in virtual form this year, as the country struggles with severe economic and health crises.
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The famed Baalbek festival was held in virtual form [AFP]

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 programme 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.

"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 organisers 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 megablast at Beirut port last August that killed more than 200 people and devastated swathes of the capital.