Akkar was once again the winner of the fourth edition of our competition "The Favorite Village of the Lebanese". With a large lead over its competitors, it was Qobayat that won the title. After the victory of Akkar el-Atiqa (2016), this region once again showed its extraordinary ability to garner support for one of one of its villages. In the second and third editions, in 2017 and 2018, Akkar was not represented and the victory went to Sir el-Denniyé (2017), also in North Lebanon, then to Bkassine (2018), in the Jezzine region.
The village gathered more than 55.3 percent of the 114,903 votes that were cast in the competition where it competed against nine other villages for the title. Barouk came in second place with 27.2 percent of the votes, followed by Becharre with 4.6 percent.
When voting closed on Sunday at midnight, the results were as follows:
114,903 votes were recorded.
Qobayat: 55.3 percent of the votes
Baruk: 27.2 percent of the votes
Becharre: 4.6 percent of the votes
Baskinta: 3.6 percent of the votes
Hebbariye: 2.3 percent of the votes
Amchit: 2.2 percent of the votes
Cana and Ghazir, tied: 1.3 percent of the votes each
Machghara: 1.2 percent of the votes
Hermel: 1.1 percent of the votes
Last Sunday night, its residents expressed their pride and joy after winning the title.
Sunday evening, a memorable celebration was organized in the village with fireworks, Lebanese drums and convoys of youths that filled the residents with joy. "Deep down, we were convinced that the village was going to win because we have been working around the clock,” Laurette Daher, a member of the municipality, said before being interrupted by honking horns. "We hope that this victory will further increase turnout in our village even if our primary goal was to only promote it.”
On Sunday evening, the president of the municipality, Abdo Abdo, thanked the residents of Qobayat and Akkar, living in Lebanon and abroad and dedicated the victory of the village "to the children and young people who [are its] future" and to the Lebanese army, which celebrates its 74th anniversary on Thursday. Abdo said he hoped that, in the future, another village in Akkar would win the competition "because all the localities of Akkar support each other. Unity is strength," he concluded.
Qobayat is known by its beautiful, untouched natural setting, including a nature reserve, impressive historical religious heritage and a sense of urbanism which is unusual and unseen in other Lebanese villages. It has been a destination for ecotourism for many years, and there are well developed efforts to preserve its historical and natural heritage. Moreover, as for Akkar el-Atiqa four years ago, the entire mohafazat mobilized in order to try to help the village win the competition in a show of extraordinary solidarity.
Sandy Mikhael, a 24-year-old management student, was one of the volunteers who helped turn out votes for the village during the 18 day voting period. She did not think twice before deciding to lend her support. "My blood is ‘qobayatian’," she said, all smiles, on Sunday night.
Mikhael and her friends formed a united front by going around the surrounding areas to encourage people to cast votes in favor the village. "We launched a request on Facebook and WhatsApp, but many young people voluntarily came to lend a hand," said Daher. "They are a real family.”
Aziz Mikhael, a PhD student in chemistry, also took part in this "extraordinary human adventure" as he called it. "Groups of scientists, including chemists, come regularly to the village to research its important vegetation. I have always said that trees are the lungs of the world. I am extremely delighted that our environment is finally recognized for its worth."
For her part, 70-year-old Laurice Kodeih, an icon in Qobayat since she rebuilt the Mar Challita Church through personal effort, was moved to tears, and said: "It is a great pride that the village won."
An entire village celebrating in unison
Although the voting officially closed after midnight, the village enjoyed such a comfortable lead that by Sunday night it was clear it would win. Spontaneously, the inhabitants of Qobayat took to the streets: hundreds headed with their cars to the village’s central square. Faced with the magnitude of the crowd, they had to abandon their vehicles and proceed on foot. Others watched the festivities from their balconies or from the terraces of cafes. Practically the whole village was involved in the victory, which the residents celebrated in unison.
The atmosphere was uplifting: applause, laughter, shouting and singing rang out in the streets, and there was a spectacular fireworks display that lasted several minutes. Horses were brought out for the occasion, and a group playing traditional music congratulated the residents of the village on the microphone. Lebanese of the diaspora originally from Qobayat, who had come back to the village for the summer holidays, were also present and happily shared in the festivities with the locals.
Qobayat’s victory was the result of a joint effort, but it was led by the village’s youth. They gathered together Sunday night, proudly wearing t-shirts with an inscription asking people to vote for their village. No one was in a hurry to take it off.
(This article was originally published in L'Orient-Le Jour on the 29th of July)
Akkar was once again the winner of the fourth edition of our competition "The Favorite Village of the Lebanese". With a large lead over its competitors, it was Qobayat that won the title. After the victory of Akkar el-Atiqa (2016), this region once again showed its extraordinary ability to garner support for one of one of its villages. In the second and third editions, in 2017 and 2018, Akkar...