Beirut: For most of the planet, horoscopes that presumably rely on astrology are a source of fictitious entertainment, adding ephemeral moments of hilarity to otherwise bland predictions. In Lebanon, it is serious business, with leading television networks pulling out all the stops to showcase stars that, more often than not, forecast upheavals, assassinations, and disasters galore. They cover the gamut as topics ranging from property sales to the closure of the country’s sole international airport.

Still, with nearly 30 per cent of local politicians regularly seeking such services, there was little wonder that the country underperformed. According to Michel Hayek — the clairvoyant who is making a fortune and probably strengthening the country’s GDP in the process — the phenomenon is not unique. His services are also in demand throughout the Arab world.

In the event, Michel Hayek graced the MTV station on December 31 for the second year in a row, having bolted from LBC over a pay dispute, though competition was stiff. LBC hired Layla Abdul Latif, an equally bombastic clairvoyant, whose forecast stood in direct contradiction with Hayek’s, while OTV called on Mike Feghaly. Ameerah Celon was on NewTV [Al Jadid] while other networks filled the airwaves with lesser-known psychics.

Naturally, the bulk of all predictions for 2013 were political in nature, often contradicting each other. Hayek foresaw a hasty departure for the Miqati government where Abdul Latif predicted longevity. One anticipated a postponement of the programmed June 2013 parliamentary elections — the result of a deal between Hezbollah and the Maronite Patriarch according to Hayek — while Abdul Latif offered a contradictory formula.

Additional assassinations were apparently on the cards. For his part, Feghaly saw doom and gloom everywhere around the world, except in Syria. Both Hayek and Abdul Latif anticipated swine flu reaching Lebanon though no Lebanese can really be surprised given poor hygiene and advanced pollution that witnesses the beautiful shore transform into a cesspool. So it went for hours on and on for those who watched one of Lebanon’s chief New Year Eve’s products. Beyond its entertaining aspect, nevertheless, this rare global phenomenon added insult to injury because most Lebanese wished to live in peace and practice their renowned joie de vivre.