Beirut – Lebanese President Michel Aoun called on expatriates to return to their country and contribute to its reconstruction.
Aoun’s comments came during the 4th edition of the “Lebanese Diaspora Energy” (LED) Conference, which kicked off on Thursday at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center (BIEL).
The conference saw Aoun Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri signing the first decree that allows Lebanese diaspora to reclaim their citizenship from their country of residence.
“Lebanese diaspora…you might be absent from Lebanon physically, but not from its heart,” the Lebanese president said, adding: “Although you have a duty to fulfill to the nations that embraced you, you also have a duty of loyalty to your motherland.”
“Lebanon’s history with immigration is long and painful,” the president said.
“People think that the path of emigration is filled with roses and jasmine flowers, but only those who have left know how difficult it is,” he added.
The Lebanese foreign ministry launched the Lebanese Diaspora Energy in 2014 within its endeavor to encourage Lebanon’s expat population to stay connected with their homeland.
The three-day conference, which will run until May 6, is gathering Lebanese expats and businessmen from around the world.
The conference is aimed to encourage expat registration for citizenship and voting, and to invest in the country.
On its official website, the LED has detailed its four main goals, which include “celebrating the Diaspora’s success stories throughout their journey in different countries; promoting the Lebanese heritage by spreading Lebanese culture, traditions and vision throughout the world; establishing connections between the diaspora and the residents, thus providing a chance to share experiences and enhance relations; and exploring new possibilities and opportunities, where together, Lebanese residents and expatriates can restore the image of Lebanon and the world’s trust in the economy of the country.”