Lebanese return to old professions to survive nationwide economic collapse

Beirut: Ali Khayat, a Lebanese man in his 60s, is working behind an old sewing machine on a stack of threadbare shoes as he just opened a small repair shop in the southern city of Nabatieh.

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It has been 11 years since Khayat worked as a cobbler. Now he picked up the old profession to make ends meet for his family amid an unprecedented national financial crisis, Xinhua news agency reported.

“My old job came in handy as prices of shoes skyrocketed, forcing people to fix their old footwear and save money for their more basic needs,” Khayat told Xinhua.

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Dozens of bags and shoes are stacked in his shop, a backlog so big that it has become difficult to meet the deadline for many of the orders, he noted.

“The cost of repairing shoes, no matter how much it has increased in the past two years, remains much more affordable than buying new shoes,” the old man said.

For the past two years, Lebanon has been reeling from an unprecedented financial crisis, with a poverty rate hovering around 78 per cent, where the Lebanese have been struggling to cover basic needs such as food, medication, and education.

Hassan al-Sharif, a tailor in Nabatieh, reopened his shop several months ago after noticing a surge in demand for his service, as prices of textiles and threads have skyrocketed since the collapse of the Lebanese pound to the US dollar starting late 2019.

Amjad Hayek spends hours in Lebanon’s southern villages to bleach copper kitchen utensils, during which villagers would gather around, marveling at his skills and craftsmanship.

“The rise in prices of utensils prompted people to repair their old kitchen items,” he said.

Meanwhile, differences among political parties have hindered the process for Lebanon to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on billions of dollars of aid funds.

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