Michael Karam

Michael Karam is the founder of the news website NowLebanon.

The Lebanese always return home

Beirut You might have thought that the threat of the Gaza war spiralling into an all-out regional conflagration, along with breathless travel advice from western governments urging their nationals to leave the country, would have deterred Lebanon’s expats from flying home to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this year. Not one bit. Flights, hotels and restaurants were

Will Lebanon be dragged into a war with Israel?

Southern Lebanon In the week following the 7/10 attacks by Hamas, a journalist in Beirut put the question all of Lebanon wanted to ask to the Prime Minister, Najib Mikati: do we have to be dragged into the war with Israel? It was more of a cri de coeur than a question, because the whole

How Lebanon unravelled

Lebanon will be 100 years old on 1 September. But the joke circulating in Beirut is that the country may not be around for the party. Eye-watering hyper-inflation, not helped by the Covid pandemic, has brought the country to its knees, just as famine and extreme poverty sparked its creation after the end of the

Ya Allah!

Last month Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, warned that anyone who yelled Allahu Akbar (‘God is the greatest’) in his city was liable to be shot dead by a police sniper. A bit harsh you might think, but it’s weird how tricky it’s become to use the world’s fifth most spoken language in Europe,

How Lebanon is coping with more than a million Syrian refugees

Beirut If any of the Syrian refugees who have made it to the relative safety of Europe have been watching the smash-hit TV show Homeland (season five), they would be baffled by its warped depiction of their compatriots’ plight in Lebanon. Unlike the vast majority of Homeland’s viewers ,they would know there are no government-sanctioned

Why I’ve joined Lebanon’s exodus

In early autumn I was on a train travelling from London to Brighton, on the final leg of a journey that began earlier that day in Beirut, and which was taking me back to live in Britain for the first time in 22 years. It was late Friday afternoon and the man opposite me was

Lebanon is falling apart on its 70th birthday

It’s Lebanon’s birthday this month — 70 years since independence — but no one’s really in the mood to party. Our first birthday present last week came in the form of two suicide bombers belonging to the Al Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades who detonated their payloads at the Iranian embassy in Beirut killing 26 people.

When Syria sneezes, Lebanon catches a cold

  Beirut News that the Syrian regime has agreed to hand in its arsenal of chemical weapons is a great relief to Lebanon. For the past few weeks we have been wandering around like inmates on death row, fearing that a US-led strike would ignite a potentially apocalyptic conflict between Hezbollah and Israel or at

First Syria, then Lebanon

  Beirut On New Year’s Eve 2011, I asked a senior Swedish diplomat, who had just crossed over from Damascus and was ready to see in the New Year Beirut-style, how long he gave Bashar al-Assad as Syrian president. ‘Longer than we think, but not as long as he thinks,’ he said with a wink.

Don’t trust Hezbollah — whatever Terry Waite says

Earlier this month, while he was in Lebanon to highlight the plight of Christians in the Middle East, in particular those fleeing the fighting in neighboring Syria, Terry Waite, the former special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, kissed and made up with Hezbollah, the militant Shia group that held him captive in Lebanon between

Leaving Lebanon

Beirut is usually a party town, capital of the Middle East’s most glamorous country where people from all over the region come to kick back — but this year’s been a little different. Kidnappings, bank robberies, roadblocks and gun battles — no wonder the free-spending and normally blasé Gulf Arabs have stayed at home, leaving