Renowned trumpeter brings life to battered Beirut

By Alaa Kanaan

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Renowned jazz trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf delighted crowds on Friday with a concert in Beirut, bringing life to an area battered by Lebanon's economic meltdown and the catastrophic Aug. 4 port explosion.

"Because of what is happening now in the region and in Lebanon, it makes it even more important to be here, to play music in the streets, in the venues," Maalouf, a French-Lebanese citizen born in Beirut, told Reuters.

Maalouf, 40, helped raise some 2 million euros for Lebanon with a charity concert in France after the August explosion which killed some 200 people and hit swathes of the capital, including the Beirut Souks area where he performed on Friday.

The audience wore masks to guard against COVID-19 at the concert, part of the annual Beirut Chants Festival, a series of free performances held before Christmas.

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Lebanon is in the throes of an economic collapse that has paralysed its banks and crashed the currency, fuelling poverty, unemployment and a brain drain.

"We need something like this now in order to eventually get back up from what we've fallen into, and hopefully soon we'll see more of these events with artists, to be able to revive Lebanon once again," said Rony Challita, who attended.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Ros Russell)

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