Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Gulf Boycotts Lebanon

"Rumors of an unofficial boycott of Lebanon by oil-rich Gulf states have the Lebanese business community on edge, with trade, tourism, and billions of dollars in remittances on the line.
While the deportation of Lebanese citizens, particularly Shia, from some Gulf countries has been going on for several years, anecdotal evidence is mounting to indicate that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are ratcheting up efforts to restrict Lebanese travel to the Gulf.
One Lebanese banker from Beirut tells the story of one of his relatives who was applying for a visa at the Qatari embassy in Lebanon. He checked the embassy’s website for visa requirements and began preparing his documents, including a hotel reservation in one of the hotels in Doha.
The reservation clerk at the hotel then informed him that the Qatari authorities are no longer allowing hotels to provide reservations to Lebanese citizens.
Another account by a local bank manager tells of a Lebanese friend of his living in Abu Dhabi who tried to make a brief business trip to Lebanon and was never able to make it back as the Emirati embassy refused to give him a visa.Many point to the recent travel warnings against Lebanon issued by Arab Gulf governments, high levels of rejection for Lebanese applying to visit the Gulf, and the refusal to renew residency permits or even deportation of Lebanese already living in the Gulf as further evidence of this boycott...
A government minister following-up the case who preferred not to be named says he is not surprised, and believes the restrictions are due to the crisis in Syria.“[Visa restrictions] became clear at the beginning of the summer with the events unfolding in Syria and Lebanon,” he said.....In addition to the damage sustained by the tourism sector, Lebanon is now poised to lose a large portion of the remittances that keep the country afloat.Remittances from Lebanese citizens in the Gulf comprise a significant chunk of the Lebanese economy. According to the World Bank, of $6.7 billion in remittances annually, 70 percent come from expatriates living the Gulf states."

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