Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Stormy Middle East: winds and rain whip across the region

From Cairo to Mosul via Gaza and Beirut, the region is being buffeted by cold winds, rain and snow

Winter weather is sweeping across the region bringing with it stormy seas, rain and even snow.

The Lebanese mountains are inundated with snow – good news for the country’s small skiing industry but the number of visitors is still down amid the worst economic crisis in decades and a mass, nationwide protest movement.

Several ski resorts have slashed prices in a bid to attract crowds from the capital at the weekends but the slopes are far from full.

On the streets of Beirut, protesters are still pushing their demands for government accountability and an administration that can tackle years of chronic mismanagement and corruption despite heavy rain. In a protest at high levels of unemployment, university graduates plastered their degree certificates to the concrete blast walls that police have placed around parliament in a bid to stop protesters blocking politicians attending sessions.

Mosul, in northern Iraq, also had light snow overnight on Sunday as freezing temperatures gripped a city still largely in ruins after the bloody fight to eradicate ISIS ended in 2017. Life is returning to the city but rebuilding it will take years.

On the eastern Mediterranean, Gaza’s fishermen braved the choppy seas to search for a catch.

In the impoverished enclave struggling under Israel’s blockade, fishermen are barred from travelling far from the coastline. Israeli gunboats enforce the blockade and regularly open fire on the trawlers as they gather nets near the boundary. When clashes flare up between the enclave’s ruling Hamas and Israel, the military cut the fishing zone down to only a few kilometres, further hampering the industry that is a lifeline to many of its more than a million inhabitants.

In Syria, displaced refugees have found themselves seeking shelter in water-and-mud-clogged tents near the closed Turkish border as they look for safety amid an intense regime bombardment and offensive to recapture the last rebel-held bastion.

Updated: February 10, 2020 01:18 PM

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