Beirut warns against internal criticism of Saudi Arabia

16 April 2015

Lebanese business delegation to visit Gulf states to maintain economic relations amid criticism of kingdom from internal groups

  • Lebanon warns against verbal war against Saudi Arabia
  • Remittances stand at approximately $8bn

Lebanon’s Chamber of Commerce has announced that a business delegation is expected to visit the GCC on 16 May in a bid to maintain economic relations with the bloc amid internal criticism of the Saudi Arabia-led offensive in Yemen.

Local media reports say the announcement was made by chairman of the chamber, Mohamed Choucair, who warned against Shia militant group Hezbollah’s ‘verbal campaign against Saudi Arabia’.

Choucair was quoted as saying, “How can some target Lebanese-Saudi relations? They need to remember that Lebanon would have starved to death if it weren’t for Lebanese remittances from Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states.”

Estimated annual remittances to Lebanon stand at approximately $8bn, half of which comes from Saudi Arabia, with $2.6bn from the rest of the GCC and $1.4bn from the rest of the world, according to figures from the Chamber of Commerce.

Lebanon has also received sizable concession loans and grants from the GCC, including a recent $28.8m loan from the Kuwait Arab Development Fund for a road project. It is also understood that the Internal Security Forces of Lebanon have completed the majority of contracts related to their share of the $1bn grant that was agreed with Riyadh in August 2014.

Beirut fears that a continued rhetorical spat between internal groups and Saudi Arabia could damage this relationship.

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