Dancers at the International Dabke Competition at Hayda Lebanon on Sunday July 23, 2017. (The Daily Star/Fadi Abou-Dagher)
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Jacqueline Martinez took her first steps on Lebanese soil in a dabke line. A Mexican of Lebanese descent, she doesn't speak Arabic, and, like many of the country's 8 million emigrants now scattered across the world after fleeing war, she never even imagined she would travel to Lebanon, the home of her grandparents. And yet, along with a hundred other professional dancers from Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina, she arrived in the country this weekend to do a most typically Lebanese thing: dance dabke.The dancers, all of Lebanese descent, convened in Hayda Lebanon, a tourist resort in the mountainous village of Zaarour, for the first annual international dabke competition Saturday evening. The event organizer, Fadi Abou Dagher, has devoted his life to finding innovative ways to celebrate Lebanese culture since he opened Hayda Lebanon nine summers ago. After two rounds for each team, the competition concluded with a more subdued and traditional performance from the dancers of Deir al-Ahmar in Baalbeck.
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