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Amid ongoing conflicts, economic slowdown, people in Mideast retain hopes for better year in 2024

 As the world is hugging the new year, people in the Middle East, where conflicts and economic slowdown inflict pains and suffering in some countries and regions in 2023, retain hopes for a more peaceful year and a better life in 2024.


Rami Kandu, like many Palestinians, experienced “the most difficult time” in 2023 because of the deadly conflict that broke out between Hamas and Israel on Oct. 7, when Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people and took over 200 hostages in a surprise attack on southern Israel.

Now, a massive humanitarian disaster has been unfolding in the Gaza Strip where over 21,000 people, mostly civilians, have lost their lives while most of the 2.3 million population in the Palestinian enclave have been displaced, due to the relentless Israeli airstrikes and ground offensives.

Even in the West Bank, people felt the pain of those living in the war-ravaged enclave.

“As you can see, the West Bank city of Bethlehem, known as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was empty with no celebrations for Christmas and New Year to show sympathy to the Palestinians suffering from Israeli attacks and siege,” Kandu told Xinhua.

“Though it is not easy,” he said, “everyone wants the conflict to end so that peace can return and the new year will be a good year.”

Basil Al-Maqousi, a 45-year-old Palestinian painter, draws a picture every day after he and his family were forced to flee from Gaza City to the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

Al-Maqousi depicted in his paintings the ordeals that people were enduring in the deadly Israel-Hamas clashes and his wish to restore peace in the new year.

The same hope went for Ben Zimroni, an Israeli Jew, who used to teach Hebrew at an Arabic school in Jerusalem before the Gaza escalation. He said that he felt the sufferings of the Palestinians, and hoped to promote mutual understanding between the two peoples in 2024.


The past year was not easy for many Turks, as their country struggled with a deadly earthquake in early 2023 as well as a continued economic slowdown.

Nesrin Kayabasi, a 45-year-old Turkish woman from Hatay, was a survivor of a deadly earthquake that hit southeastern Türkiye and neighboring Syria in February 2023. She lost her villa, office, cars… all her belongings in the quake, and all her family are now running a Hatay traditional food shop in the capital Ankara for a living.

“More than 50,000 people died in that terrible earthquake, which I will never forget,” she recalled, determining to return to her hometown once the reconstruction work there is complete. “In the new year of 2024, I want to create my own Hatay food brand and return to Hatay to get back the life we had.”

Yaser Yazigi, a Syrian resident from Aleppo, also suffered from the earthquake, which damaged his house. What’s worse was the U.S. sanctions on his country hindered the importing of some necessary materials needed to repair his house.

“The sanctions imposed by the United States have led us to this terrible situation,” said Yazigi, hoping “the embargo on Syria can be lifted and things will get better in 2024.”

Ahmad Ghossaini, a resident of Baakline, a Druze town of Mount Lebanon, hoped Lebanon “will rise in a short time starting with the election of a new president and the formation of a capable government to rebuild institutions.”

Lebanon remained entrenched in a socioeconomic and financial crisis in 2023, further exacerbated by institutional and political stalemates, according to the World Bank. Furthermore, the Lebanon-Israel border has been witnessing heightened tension between the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Israeli forces.

“It is not the first time that we faced conflicts and crisis,” Ghossaini told Xinhua, believing “Lebanese will manage to survive and stand up again.”


With further fruits made in the cooperation between China and major Middle Eastern countries in various fields in the past year, many people in the region expressed hopes for new progress in 2024 in boosting the mutually beneficial cooperation in seeking common development.

“For Egypt, I hope progress in all fields will happen in 2024, and I hope Egypt will learn from the Chinese experience in economic development amid the increasing cooperation between two sides,” said Yara Ibrahim, manager of the education department in “Wisdom House for Cultural Industries” institution in Egypt.

Ibrahim felt that the China-Egypt cooperation has made great strides in 2023, which she thinks is “a good thing for Egypt to benefit.”

Her institution started Chinese teaching courses in 2020 and has attracted students from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan and Algeria to attend the courses. At the end of 2023, the institution was certified as an international Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) and HSK Speaking Test (HSKK), “spreading the Chinese language and culture to the Arab world,” she said.

Hebah Abbas, the chief specialist electrical engineer at the Kuwait Ministry of Education, recently wrapped up her trip to China, where she visited some leading Chinese enterprises, such as Huawei and PowerChina.

“The trip was deeply impressive. Kuwait is embarking on a bold economic transformation, strategically diversifying its economy beyond the traditional oil sector to various sectors such as finance, cutting-edge technology, and a burgeoning tourism industry,” said Abbas.

She believed that the cooperation between Kuwaiti and Chinese companies would help achieve the “Kuwait Vision 2035” through the win-win relationship. ■

Famagusta Gazette