Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

No Gulf Tourists in Lebanon Due to Recent Official Positions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese and Arab tourists enjoy a night out in downtown Beirut, Lebanon Monday, June 17, 2002. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Beirut- Tourists coming from Gulf Arab countries were absent from the cities and villages of Mount Lebanon this summer, as one of the repercussions to the current crisis between Lebanon and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

For the first time since the end of the Lebanese Civil War, tourists coming from Gulf States were absent from the towns and villages of Aley, Bhamdoun al-Mhatta, Sawfar and Broumana in Mount Lebanon, despite the fact that several Gulf nationals already own houses there.

The tourist boycott also reflected on the real estate sector, head of the Lebanese-Saudi Business Development Commission Elie Rizk said.

“The probability of GCC nationals who are selling their belongings in Lebanon has reached 70 percent in the mountainous areas and 34 percent in Downtown Beirut,” Rizk said.

Rizk told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper: “These numbers are terrifying,” adding that the car rentals had also dropped from 18,000 to 7,000 this year, in addition to a decrease in hotel reservations.

During an inspection visit to several towns in Mount Lebanon, Asharq Al-Awsat found they were empty from any tourist businesses.

The mayor of Aley town, Wajdi Mrad told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “political environment surrounding the country and the region has deprived us from Gulf nationals.”

Owners of touristic establishments and commercial shops were angry about the dire season, which would lead to an economic and financial crisis in the country and would increase the levels of unemployment.

The mayor of Bhamdoun al-Mhatta, Osta Abu Rjeili said: “We miss the brotherly people of the Gulf. We appreciate all the reasons keeping them from visiting Lebanon at this critical stage.”
Abu Rjeili called on mending the relations between Lebanon and Gulf States.

Rizk lashed out at the Lebanese government for failing to take a swift position against campaigns attacking Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.

Rizk said the campaigns launched by the so-called Hezbollah against Saudi Arabia and the GCC states continue “despite our warnings from attaching Lebanon to regional settlements led by Iran through its allies in Lebanon.”