Lebanon's political crisis has turned into an economic nightmare for the vital tourist industry, hard hit by a slump in tourists from oil-rich Gulf states who have been told to avoid the troubled country. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have advised their citizens not to travel to a country in the grip of its worst political crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990.
Lebanon again postponed an election to choose a new head of state by a midnight Friday deadline amid continuing deadlock between rival political factions and fears of a dangerous power vacuum. The country's pro-Syrian President, Emile Lahoud, plans to step down when his term expires at midnight.
Michel Hayek, a butcher's boy who has risen to the status of an Arab media celebrity, has the knack of making accurate predictions in an anxious and uncertain Lebanon looking for answers. "I believe everyone has what I have. It's a sense like your eyes, or your ears. If I feel something strongly, I follow my instinct," says the man nicknamed the "Nostradamus of the Middle East".
Breakfast at an upmarket hotel in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, begins at 6.30am. Nearly three quarters of an hour later, the tables are still set and pristine, the buffet untouched. "There is no one," the restaurant manager said, shaking his head. Beirut should be buzzing, if only with expatriates returning to holiday in their homeland.
Rhulani Nhlaniki is Pfizer’s cluster lead for sub-Saharan Africa. As Pfizer starts phase III of the clinical trial of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, he tells Malaikah Bophela that if it is successful, the company will ensure the vaccine will be available to everyone who needs it