BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon’s main summer festivals have been called off for a second straight year — with a Shakira concert cancelled — because of security fears and political tensions, organisers said on Thursday. Wafa Saab, a spokeswoman for the Beiteddine Festival near the capital, said international performers, like most tourists, had refused to travel to Lebanon, Security would have been a major headache, she acknowledged.

The Baalbek Festival in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon has also been called off, Maya al-Halabi said, although no decision has been taken yet on a third festival in Byblos, to the north of Beirut.  Shakira, the Colombian superstar with Lebanese roots, was to have performed in the capital as part of the Beiteddine events.He was to have conducted his orchestra at the Roman temples in Baalbek

Last summer, instead of droves of culture vultures descending on the country, tens of thousands of foreigners fled in a massive evacuation from a war that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians.Tourism Minister Joseph Sarkis had announced only two months ago that the festivals would go ahead despite a political crisis that has gripped the country since November. But the army has since been locked in a deadly battle with Islamist militants in northern Lebanon and a string of bomb blasts have struck Beirut and tourist areas."We want to change the image of Lebanon with an international media campaign in order to attract tourists again," Sarkis said in May, recalling that Lebanon had been banking in 2006 on a record year in tourism revenues.

Last year, Lebanon had been due to host concerts by Lebanese diva Fairuz, English rock band Deep Purple jazz legend Barbara Hendricks and Lisa Minelli

The Beirut international film festival went ahead in October under the slogan "Make Films, Not War", aiming to revive the Lebanese capital’s vibrant arts scene from under the shadow of conflict.