Lebanon's prestigious Murex d'Or cancelled after Akkar explosion

The ceremony, celebrating Lebanese and Arab artists in music, film and television, was to be held this week at Beirut’s Casino du Liban

Lebanese outgoing culture minister Tareq Mitri and journalist May Chidiac (C) stand next to Lebanese director Georges Nasser (R) as he accepts his Murex d'Or award for lifetime achievement during a ceremony at the Casino du Liban in Jounieh, north of Beirut, late June 20, 2008. The annual Murex d'Or awards Lebanon's and the Middle East's equivalent to the Oscars in importance, but honour the best in film, television and music. AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)
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Lebanon's prestigious cultural awards, the Murex d'Or, has cancelled its Wednesday’s ceremony in light of the explosion in the northern Lebanese town of Akkar.

On Sunday, an oil tanker exploded and killed at least 27 people and injured 79 others, according to Lebanon's Ministry of Public Health and Lebanese Red Cross.

The tragedy occurred as the country grapples with widespread fuel and electricity shortages and a spiralling economic crisis.

Citing these dire conditions, the award’s founders Zahi and Fadi Helou took to Twitter to announce the “postponement” of the star-studded event, which was scheduled to take place in Beirut’s Casino du Liban.

No new dates have been announced.

"After the new catastrophe that afflicted our country, Lebanon, which was represented by the explosion in the town of Akkar, which claimed the lives of dozens of dead and wounded, the Murex committee decided to postpone the ceremony that was scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening.”

The move marks the second consecutive year the annual awards, recognising Lebanese and pan-Arab achievements in music film and television, has been cancelled.

The 2020 ceremony was also nixed as a safety precaution against the pandemic.

The Murex d'Or statement comes on the back of a growing number of celebrities snubbing the event because of Lebanon’s current problems.

On Saturday, pop star and Best Lebanese Artist nominee Nawal El Zoghbi declared she will be a no-show at the ceremony.

“I announce my apologies for not accepting it this year because of the difficult situation the country is going through,” she said. “I hope that the resurrection of Lebanon is near ... Lebanon is not well.”

Syria's Kosai Khauli, shortlisted for the Best Arab Actor award, also tweeted he will not make it.

"In view of the difficult circumstances experienced by Lebanon, Syria and other countries in our pained Arab homeland, I apologise for not attending the award ceremony." he said. "I hope that we can all celebrate and rejoice in our homelands and with our people who deserve a better life.”

One of Lebanon's leading television and film production companies, Cedars Art Production, released a statement declaring "we are ashamed to rejoice and celebrate our success in light of our great pain."

Launched in 2000, the Murex d'Or is one of the Arab entertainment industry's most important events.

The major categories – including Best Music Artist, Best Actor, Best Film and Best Television series – are split into two streams, to recognise Best Lebanese and Best Arab talents and works.

Some of the nominees this year include pop stars Elissa, Nancy Ajram and Abeer Nehme for Best Lebanese Artist, while Egyptians Amir Karara and Ahmed Ezz were up for Best Arab Actor.

The dramas 1982 and Khamsa w Nos was also nominated for Best Lebanese Film and Best Lebanese Series respectively.

Updated: August 16, 2021, 12:21 PM