Legendary Lebanese singer Fairuz is set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Beirut tomorrow, August 31. Macron first flew to the Lebanese capital days after the devastating explosion on August 4 and will return once again for a second trip within the month to actively assist with rebuilding efforts. While the President has meetings with various political leaders scheduled on his agenda, one of his first stops upon landing is Fairuz’s home in Antelias according to the Elysee Palace. Although further details have yet to be released, the two influential figures are sitting down to allegedly talk about potential governmental and social reforms that will help Lebanon rise up again in the wake of political, economic, and now social turmoil.
Fairuz is a longtime icon in the Arab world and Macron’s decision to meet with the famed vocalist has been met with mixed views. Political science professor and research fellow at Paris’ Institute for International and Strategic Affairs Karim Emile Bitar tweeted that it was an “excellent decision” by Macron to meet Fairuz, describing her as “arguably the most iconic, dignified and consensual Lebanese figure.” Meanwhile, some critics claim this to be a publicity strategy and are unsure if it will lead to lasting change.
Since the explosion, France has led a global effort to support Beirut and the Lebanese people including hosting an international conference in cooperation with the United Nations, where more than 15 Heads of State virtually attended and pledged more than $295 million (AED 1 billion) to Lebanon relief efforts. “The purpose of today’s conference is to pool our resources to provide very practical responses to the needs of Beirut’s population in the coming days and weeks,” said Macron in a statement.
Outlining the nation’s immediate needs from healthcare infrastructure and food security to child education and alternative housing, Macron voiced the necessity for viable solutions that will assist Lebanon not only in the short-term but also in the longterm with special attention given to reforms “demanded by the Lebanese people”. “Our role is to stand by their side, by Beirut and by the Lebanese people,” reiterated Macron, ending with a warning that it is the “very future of Lebanon that is at stake.”