Temperatures topped an unprecedented 38 degrees Celsius in Lebanon this May. The unbearable heatwave that came well before the start of the summer has been made even harder to tolerate as it led to more frequent power outages.
Many people have resorted to placing inflatable pools on their balconies and roofs to keep cool given the wariness of going to public beaches because of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus epidemic. The decision to allow private-pool resorts to open at limited capacity has attracted a small number of visitors, as people are still careful to maintain social distancing.
The price of these inflatable pools, which have become widely available, ranges between 100,000 to 2 million Lebanese pounds depending on their size. Besides the pools, people are placing inclining plastic chairs and artificial grass, common in private resorts, for sunbathing.
Maggie Awad, who owns a store that sells these pools, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Our sales have gone up by 40 percent compared to the previous few seasons. If we continue to sell at these rates, we will be out of stock by next week.”
She said most purchases are made over the phone, with clients asking that the pools be delivered to their homes. “Some residents split the cost and share the pool, setting them up on the street between buildings, while the majority place them on their balconies or roofs for private use,” she revealed.
As for Nabil, who works for a company that imports inflatable pools, he told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Our stock for these pools is empty and they can only be found in a few stores. We will not be importing new ones because we would have to pay for them in dollars, which is currently unavailable in large sums.”
"When I decided to create a private recreational space on my balcony, I was only thinking of my 3-year-old son," says Elio Safi. He grew restless in the confines of his house, “so, I went to a toy store, and ended up setting up a swimming pool and a mini-playground for him.”
Natalie Hanna, whose balcony in Kafr Habbab area has become a recreational space to which she invites her close friends from time to time, said: “It is forbidden in the time of (coronavirus) to swim in the beach or go to restaurants, not even strolling on the seaside is permitted. So, I decided to create a green space on my spacious balcony.”
“I brought in plants and bought a large pool. And now we can have fun and escape the heatwave.”