Beirut blast: Shattered glass from explosion site recycled, sold in UAE to support artists in Lebanon

Dubai - Many Lebanese expats have been trying to do their bit to support those struggling in their home country.



by

James Jose

Published: Wed 4 Aug 2021, 6:11 PM

The Beirut explosion of last year not only caused the loss of lives, but also the loss of livelihoods for many in Lebanon — a double devastation for a country that was already in the throes of an economic crisis.

A year on, hundreds of thousands are still trying to come to terms with the traumatic experience, and many are still trying to get back on their feet.

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An estimated 70,000 people lost their jobs in the aftermath of the explosion.

Lebanese expats in the UAE, who have felt the pain and agony their country is going through, are trying to do their bit to bring about a semblance of normalcy to their beloved Lebanon.

Pascale Farra is one of them. Farra supports artists and artisans back home by selling their products through her concept e-commerce outlet, RBKB in Dubai, which she set up after quitting her day job, just months after the tragedy.

Among the products is beautiful glassware made by recycling shattered glass from the explosion site, an initiative by Ziad Abi Chaker, an industrial engineer from Lebanon who is supporting local industries and trying to preserve the ancient art of glassblowing with the Green Glass Recycling Initiative Lebanon (GGRIL).

“Everything that we have in the store is from Lebanese artists and artisans,” Farra, who moved to the UAE 10 years ago, told Khaleej Times.

“The explosion left us expats feeling helpless, searching for ways to support our fellow Lebanese. I personally love these artists and I had bought glassware for myself before the explosion during Christmas in 2019. So, I reached out to some of them and, just as a discussion first, if they would be interested in selling in Dubai. Then, one thing led to another and RBKB was born to support the Lebanese community,” she explained.

The glassware is made from the very glass that was broken during the explosion, Farra revealed.

“GGRIL were already tackling the recycling problem that we had in Lebanon and used to collect glass and give it to artisans and glassblowers in Tripoli and Sarafand, two areas that are known for blowing glass.

"When the explosion happened, there was a lot of glass everywhere. If you heard the stories of anyone living in Beirut during that time, for months they would say that the sound of glass while they were walking never went away. This was the glass that GGRIL collected and sent to the glassblowers in Tripoli and Sarafand,” Farra explained.

Around September, Farra visited Beirut and met with artists and artisans. "Ziad was one of the first believers in RBKB and came on board from the beginning” she said.

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At the moment, Farra provides a platform to nine artists through her online store. Crochet artist Dolly, whose house in Lebanon was damaged in the explosion, is one of them.

“My sister came across Dolly when she was helping people fix their houses. Dolly used to have a day job as a saleswoman and had learnt to crochet from her grandma. She used to make crochets and gift them to friends and family during weddings and other occasions. But she was finding it hard to support her family because of the economic crisis, and the explosion made it worse for her,” Farra said.

“Hopefully, this helps. A lot of Lebanese expats are doing a great job supporting different segments. Doing so is helping with my healing process,” she said.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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