Citizens tweet up a stink about Beirut’s rubbish collection crisis

Rubbish, rescues and refuse are taxing the minds of the Arabic-language twitter users in this region, writes Sarah Khamis.

Rubbish, rescues and food waste are taxing the minds of Arabic twitterers. AFP
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It has been a week of mixed emotions on Twitter, with Lebanese citizens expressing their intense frustration over the continuing rubbish disposal crisis while Emiratis and others were giving thanks for the heroism of UAE forces in freeing a British hostage in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Arabs in this region and beyond were asking Spain to think about the poor rather than encouraging waste in the annual La Tomatina tomato fight.

A load of rubbish

Lebanon has been locked in a rubbish disposal crisis since July 17 when activists forcibly shut down the country’s largest landfill.

The government failed to find an alternative place to dispose of Beirut’s waste and, last Saturday, protesters clashed with security forces in central Beirut, leaving dozens of people injured. The twitterati were quick to have their say.

@jadlbfi thought the government had approached the situation wrongly, “pushing people towards more anger”.

Sarah (@seldeeb) shared a photograph and commented that thieves were removing wall slabs while rubbish was piling up on the streets.

@MohamedHemish noted: “It’s interesting that it takes a rubbish crisis to bring people to the streets.”

@Nervana_1 shared the status of the protest: "Fewer protesters today in Beirut today, no more than 1,000 according to an Al Arabiya reporter."

Nervana also posted the comment: “Lebanese politicians have underestimated how ordinary Lebanese citizens have had enough of all of them.”

@_RichardHall shared a photograph with the explanatory caption: “People buying ice cream while a tear gas cloud creeps down the road.”

@Abihabib considered the nature of the protest, noting: “This is not sectarian or ideological. Lebanese people want a functioning government that can provide basic services like garbage collection.”

@SultanAlQassemi tweeted: “Full solidarity with Lebanese protesters who are demanding basic services and an end to corruption.”

Finally, @habib_b noted that the rubbish protest had brought so many Lebanese people together.

“The great thing about this movement: there is no we, you or them, there is us, all of us.”

Hostage freed

Social media users celebrated when Robert Semple, 64, a British oil engineer, was rescued by Emirati troops operating from the southern port city of Aden in Yemen. Mr Semple had been held prisoner by terrorists for 18 months.

@iPhoney_ad noted: “We help release the innocent hostages and do not pay to release terrorists like others are saying.”

@maryam1001 said: “We salute UAE’s army in Yemen for their bravery ... we feel proud and thankful.”

@ibahzad: “British foreign minister thanks the UAE for freeing the British hostage.”

You say tomato

People in the Arab world were intrigued by the La Tomatina festival that was held in the town of Bunol near Valencia in Spain.

Each year, thousands of people from around the world gather for a huge tomato fight. But tweeters from this region mostly thought it was a waste of good food.

@WeamAlaqel tweeted: “Shame on you Spain! People are dying of hunger.”

@jenan1655 contrasted images of people playing with tomatoes at the Spanish festival and starving Somalians begging for food. The pictures were accompanied by the tweet: “The loss of things sometimes teaches us their worth.”

@19Weirdo’s thoughts about the big food fight were quite clear. “La Tomatina, with all my respect, I think this festival should be illegal!”

@fathalla_dubai also thought the organisers should think of those less fortunate, saying the festival was a “waste of resources” when there was so much hunger in Africa.

@Sectiman added: “While many people cannot find food to eat, we see such people waste food in front of the world. Shame on you.”

@isnbar said: “It’s very sad seeing those people playing with food, when there are families dying from starvation.”

Sarah Khamis is The National's social media editor

On Twitter: @SarahKhamisUAE