SIDON, Lebanon: A festival bringing together cheerful residents and businesspeople has lit up the southern city of Sidon in hopes of kickstarting the local economy as a national economic crisis looms. The Sidon Joy Festival is being organized by the Sidon Merchants Association in cooperation with La Reine Wedding Garden. A wedding theme reigned supreme at the event, which showcased engagement and wedding dresses for brides-to-be as well as suits for men who are set to tie the knot.
Local MPs Bahia Hariri and Osama Saad attended the festival, as did Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi and Ali Sharif, the head of Sidon’s Trade Organization.
Throughout the event, entertainment large and small put a smile on attendees’ faces, including dances by costume-clad performers and an exhibition of paintings.
It was preceded by a parade with a band and performers. The festival itself opened with a traditional folkloric dance, as well as the unveiling of sculptures.
The organizers claim to have set a record with “the biggest” Christmas cake, at 12 meters long, which was decorated by attendees and then cut and distributed among them. Afterward, wedding bouquets, decorations and accessories were exhibited and reviewed.
Also at the festival were paintings with traditional themes, such as stills of Lebanese people dancing the dabkeh, and musical performances to lighten festivalgoers’ mood.
A fair engaging Sidon’s commercial market today can hardly escape the deteriorating economic situation. Sharif said the Sidon Merchants Association had given the festival its name “to bring back smiles to people’s faces.”
“We really hope that the government will be formed, because this would restore some of our spirit. The economic situation we are living in is at its worst,” Sharif said. Lebanon has been without a government for seven months as competing political sides bicker over their respective shares in the next Cabinet.
Sharif said the market, in addition to trying to offer locals a “dose of hope,” was also aimed at reviving the local economy.
Discounts were abundant at the event, offered by businesses in the true spirit of the holidays.