Lebanon’s minister of tourism has sparked backlash after unveiling a new campaign to boost tourism titled: “A crazy love.”
Walid Nassar revealed the slogan – which in Arabic roughly translates to: “even in your madness I love you” – at a news conference in Beirut on Thursday, saying that the new campaign would represent the country’s “touristic identity.”
But not everyone is on board with the slogan, especially Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who voiced his opposition to the campaign soon after the press conference. "Lebanon is not crazy,” Mikati said, “but maybe the way it was managed has led to that.”
The slogan, Nassar has revealed, was made for free by the Dubai-based advertising company TBWA. Walid Kanan, the Lebanese creative director of TBWA, said it was “near-impossible” to come up with something to market Lebanon under the current “situation.”
The situation is: one of the worst financial crises recorded in history; a government mired in accusations of corruption and mismanagement; and the aftermath of the Beirut 2020 port explosion. According to the tourism ministry, visitors to Lebanon have dropped from 2 million people in 2018 to a few hundred thousand over the past two years.
Inspired by a patriotic song by Lebanese megastar singer Fairuz, Kanan said that the slogan aims to bring the country together in hard times.
“This is our country, full of contradictions,” Kanan said. “A crazy country, with crazy nightlife, weather, and food, and no matter how crazy the situation in Lebanon is, we can only say, ‘we love you in your madness.”