The Middle East before and after coronavirus — from crowds to ghost towns

Cities in the region, already hit by months of protests, look abandoned as efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus see residents stay inside

A Lebanese man walks on a mostly empty corniche, or waterfront promenade, along the Mediterranean Sea, as the country's top security council and the government ordered a lockdown over the spread of coronavirus in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, March 16, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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As coronavirus has spread across the globe and measures have been put in place to limit its impact, parts of the Middle East have gone into lockdown – cities that were once bustling hives of activity have become ghost towns.

Iraq and Lebanon, already in disarray due to months of protests, have been heavily affected due to their close ties with Iran, the worst hit country in the region.

Iraq — which has 125 confirmed cases — has implemented a week-long curfew, including the suspension of all flights from Baghdad’s international airport, while Lebanon is in full containment mode, with traffic thin and some streets completely empty on Monday, the start of the working week.

Restaurants, cafes and bars have been closed since last week and most private businesses were shuttered Monday. The small country has reported 99 cases and three deaths.

These before-and-after photos show how popular landmarks have been left abandoned.


The Old Bridge over the Tigris, Mosul 


The Nabi Younes market, Mosul 


Karbala pool hall, Karbala


Erbil citadel, Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan 



Beirut beach, Beirut 


Corniche, Beirut





Amman Citadel




Cairo University