Tuesday, November 24, 2020

What Nescafe Gold says about Lebanon

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly as part of the "History of Lebanon" project

Nescafe Gold is missing from Lebanese market.

Nothing alarming, just another product to add to the list.

Panadol is missing from Lebanese market.

Nothing alarming, just another product to add to the list.

As per Executive Magazine:

"Since the start of 2020, the poverty rate has increased in Lebanon to an extent where the middle class is practically dissolving, and the lower class has been pushed further into poverty. According to Khalid Abu-Ismail, a Senior Economist at UN-ESCWA, and Vladimir Hlasny, an economic affairs officer at the UN-ESCWA, the moderate poverty head count in Lebanon is projected to have nearly doubled, and extreme poverty, to have tripled. According to the authors, to close the extreme poverty gap, would only require the richest 10% of the Lebanese to levy around 1% of their total assets toward a solidary fund."

The social solidarity thingy is of no interest, we all know it will not happen. A friend of mine who recently started working with an NGO was amazed, "Tarek, no one talks to anyone in these organizations, I though other organizations would share data with me, or would give me pointers. They seem me as a competition and a threat!" - and that is NGOs.

But to go back to Nescafe Gold, one of my very few indulgences I kept. Well, no more. I am, by hook or by crook, one of the remnants of the Middle Class in Lebanon. Growing up, as a family, we always hovered in that category, sometimes falling to its bottom, sometimes rising up higher (anyone who wishes to dumb this down, C- to C+). As time passed, and with all three children having thriving careers, we certainly went to B in terms of socio-economic classification.

Getting my money stuck at the bank was not part of the plan.

On the outside, the fa├žade did not crack. I still dress nice (well, within my style!), but now avoid indulging in new items hanging to a core closet of items after giving away many in successive collects (to poor people, to people hit by the explosion in Beirut and so on). Like everyone else, I spent most of this year indoors. Which helped using the clothes less and keeping them intact. 

I live in a two-storey detached house, but certainly did not anticipate to do the major chantier which imposed itself this summer (sewage, heater, tree which was causing structural problems to be cut down, etc....). But again, am still holding strong. Whereas unsurprisingly work dwindled enormously this year, I resorted to the other best option: Cut down on spending.

Apart from Nescafe Gold that is.

Scratch that.