French counterpart Emmanuel Macron (left) and Lebanese diva Fairouz

French President Emmanuel Macron met the legendary Lebanese singer Fairuz on Monday on his second visit to Lebanon after the devastating explosion at the Beirut port last month. Fairuz, born Nouhad Haddad, is one of the most celebrated singers in the Middle East, and has sung of love, of Lebanon, and of the Palestinian cause. Many see the 85-year-old artist as a symbol of unity, amidst the disastrous aftermath of the 4 August port blast which claimed the lives of at least 190 people and left over 300,000 displaced.

Macron awarded the iconic singer with the Legion of Honor, the highest official honor in France, as a tribute to her from the French people and to commemorate her commitment to Lebanon. Macron’s second visit to Beirut comes as he presses for a new government and rebuilding of the city following the deadly blast. After his visit, Macron told the press that he is committed to ensuring that reforms and change take place.

“I made a commitment to her, as I make a commitment to you here tonight, to do everything so that reforms are implemented and that Lebanon receives better. I promise you. I won’t leave you,” he said. Following the visit, many people took to social media to share photos of the meeting. For some, it represented hope, whereas others were more cynical of the meeting.

Many also drew attention to the French president not wearing a mask, particularly as the meeting comes at a time where Lebanon is struggling to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases. Fairuz wore a face shield during the meeting. After meeting with UN representatives and aid groups, Macron said that he is ready to host an aid conference for Lebanon next month, after visiting the country and meeting with survivors. — www.middleeasteye