In pictures: The Middle East bids farewell to 2020

In pictures: The Middle East bids farewell to 2020
3 min read
01 January, 2021
Here's our look at how the region said farewell to a year of change and challenges.
Syrian children in Idlib mark the end of 2020 [Getty]
The past year presented the world with challenges unseen for generations. As fireworks displays lit up the skies of cities across the Middle East on Thursday evening, some celebrated while others braced and reflected on a year of change and challenges.

For those in parts of the region torn by conflict, 2021 presents the possibility of renewed efforts for peace, stability and safety. For others, the new year comes with hope of a return to pre-pandemic normality. 

Here's The New Arab's look at how some countries in the Middle East greeted 2021, in pictures.

Idlib, Syria

The Syrian conflict claimed at least 6,800 people in 2020, the lowest annual death toll since it began nearly a decade ago, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

Almost 10 years of war have devastated Syria's infrastructure, crippled the economy and led to the displacement of more than half of its pre-war population.

To welcome the new year, Syrian children in Idlib lit up rocket projectiles in the shape of a tree on a debris of a building that had been destroyed in the bombardment of Bashar Assad's regime and its supporter Russia.

Syrian children light up rocket projectiles on a debris of a building [Getty]

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut residents welcomed the new year with celebrations after a challenging year [Getty]

New year celebrations in Lebanon took place after almost a year of coronavirus restrictions and just four months after the deadly blast that struck Lebanon's capital.

The massive Aug. 4 blast, caused by the ignition of a large stockpile of explosive material, killed over 200 people, injured thousands and caused widespread destruction in the Beirut.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Some 200,000 tourists spent New Year's Eve in Dubai [Getty]

The United Arab Emirates' tourist magnet Dubai bade farewell to 2020 with its most expensive fireworks show to date. An estimated 200,000 tourists were among those who celebrated the new year in the emirate.

The UAE ended a year in which it triggered outrage among Arab and Muslim states by normalising ties with Israel. The move was slammed by all Palestinian factions as a 'betrayal', however paved the way for Sudan and Morocco to enter similar agreements with the Jewish state.

Baghdad, Iraq

Iraq began 2020 under the spotlight when top Iranian military commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani was assassination near Baghdad airport in January.

Cities accross Iraq welcomed 2021 with fireworks displays and celebrations.

New year celebrations in Baghdad, Iraq [Getty]

Gaza, Palestine

Israel has maintained a crippling siege on Gaza since 2008 which has brought the coastal Palestinian territory's infrastructure to the brink of collapse.

Just a day after Christmas, an Israeli airstrike on Gaza struck a children's hospital in the besieged city.

Familes stroll along a beach in Gaza under the last sunset of 2020 [Getty]

Tehran, Iran

Iran entered 2021 in mourning as the country prepares to mark the first anniversary of the death of Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

While 2020 began with fears that US-Iran tensions could escalate into a region-wide conflict, 2021 has entered with renewed optimism for Washington-Tehran relations as the Donald Trump administration prepares to leave office.

Mourners in Tehran gather for an event commemorating Gen. Qasem Soleimani's death [Getty]

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