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Sun 17 Feb 2019 03:40 PM

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No Arab should leave Lebanon if we implement reforms, says Saad Hariri

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has called on Arab economies to integrate to improve opportunities for youth across the region

No Arab should leave Lebanon if we implement reforms, says Saad Hariri
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said he wants to reduce emigration from Lebanon, calling on Arab economies to integrate and improve opportunities for youth in the region.

“I don’t believe any Arab should have to leave Lebanon. In fact, I believe Arab economies should integrate their economies, like in Europe where they have pooled their resources together across militaries, agriculture and other economic segments,” he said.

Hariri was responding last week at the World Government Summit in Dubai to a question about how he can curb the emigration of young Lebanese in other parts of the world.

The Lebanese diaspora around the world currently numbers 15.4 million, according to state figures, far outnumbering the 4.3 million citizens residing within the country.

One in three citizens expressed a desire to emigrate, according to recent surveys by information international, citing a better quality of life in developed world countries.

Limited resources

Meanwhile, refugees into Lebanon currently account for 30% of its more than 6 million population. Nearly 1.1 million of them hail from Syria, the remaining accounted for primarily by displaced Palestinians.

In his session, Hariri said the blame for the Lebanese State being unable to provide inadequately for its population lay largely on “limited resources due to sectarian conflict”.

“The majority of the followers of those sectarian politics watch TV shows and don’t know anything about the mosque or the church they belong to except from what those people on TV say. And this is in such contrast to the religions themselves, because whether Maronite Christian or Shia Sunni Islam, all the religions preach tolerance,” he said.

Lebanon has also had to endure “a rough period” because of regional problems “including the war in Syria, the Arab Spring, as well as our internal politics,” said Hariri.

“Our key problem in Lebanon is ourselves, our mentality, embrace of technology and lack of digital platforms,” he added.

“Having said that, Lebanese doctors and engineers are some of the best in the world. And once we have implemented reforms you will see a different Lebanon and it will change the region as well,” said Hariri.

Hariri mentioned that his resolve to cater to all was strong, saying, “I’m a president for all, regardless of religion.”

The only Christian President of a country in the Arab World, Hariri said his aim was to transform Lebanon into place similar to Dubai.

“Sheikh Mohammed once said that when he travelled to Lebanon in the past that he was amazed by it and wanted Dubai to be like Lebanon. I will say now that I want Lebanon to be like Dubai,” he said.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online