A woman chooses a bracelet at a jewelry booth during Luxuria, a luxury fair, in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 21, 2023. (Xinhua/Liu Zongya)
BEIRUT, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's economic and financial crisis have gravely impacted the fashion, jewelry and art industry in the country, said exhibitors at Luxuria, a Beirut luxury fair.
"We saw a drop of 50 percent, if not more, on our products in the local market since the beginning of the crisis in 2019," said Eman Tawil, owner of Diamantia, a fine jewelry store.
To bridge the sales gap, Tawil had to extend her business to other regional countries like Egypt, and more established markets like Canada and Gulf countries through her online website.
A woman tries a ring at a jewelry booth during Luxuria, a luxury fair, in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 21, 2023. (Xinhua/Liu Zongya)
The fair runs from Friday to Monday at Phoenicia, a five-star hotel in Beirut, showcasing the finest collections of jewelry, art, and fashion with the participation of over 40 exhibitors.
"We chose to kick off our fair during Eid al-Fitr, when Lebanon attracts high numbers of foreign visitors, which may help the recovery of the luxury market," Houssam Mokahal, manager at M&O, the organizer of Luxuria, told Xinhua.
"This exhibition is a great occasion for our business to attract clients amid the current crisis," said Lucie Dekermendjian Helou, owner of Lucie By Luka Jewelry.
"We are seeing only some demand on low-budget items nowadays," she said, adding that only a handful of foreign customers could purchase items priced at over 2,000 U.S. dollars.
Helou said she opened a workshop six months ago despite the crisis, in the belief that the market would recover as many Lebanese affected by the financial crisis tend to hold hard currencies or invest in jewelry rather than leaving cash in their current accounts.
People visit a painting booth during Luxuria, a luxury fair, in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 21, 2023. (Xinhua/Liu Zongya)
The situation is not better for Mariam Chamass, a decorator and painter. She has seen a drop in local demand for her paintings by around 40 percent and now relies on the little online demand from Gulf markets such as Qatar, Dubai and Kuwait.
"I hope that business picks up a bit with the arrival of tourists during this Eid al-Fitr vacation," she told Xinhua.
Another painter, Rana Doumani, said business was much better five years ago.
"We want our society to be alive again," she said, adding that the flow of visitors has been encouraging so far.
Two women take a selfie at a painting booth during Luxuria, a luxury fair, in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 21, 2023. (Xinhua/Liu Zongya)
Dania Tabbara, owner of a clothes and accessories store told Xinhua she is hopeful about her business as the Lebanese and foreign visitors appreciate local products' high quality.
Adnan Rammal, a representative at Lebanon's Economic and Social Council and a member of the Beirut Traders' Association, told Xinhua that Lebanon's middle class used to be an essential part of the local luxury market before the crisis.
"Today, only 20 percent of the Lebanese have good purchasing power, posing a direct impact on the luxury market," he explained.
An exhibitor showcases one of her Abayas at her booth during Luxuria, a luxury fair, in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 21, 2023. (Xinhua/Dana Halawi)
Lebanon has been suffering from an unprecedented financial crisis, causing a collapse of the local currency and devaluation in wages, plunging over 80 percent of the population into poverty. ■