Over 300,000 Lebanese nationals are living in the UAE, with a similar number living in Saudi Arabia
Lebanon's moves to conduct oil and gas exploration for the first time this month may eventually bring the country closer to the UAE and the rest of the Arabian Gulf, according to Lebanese ambassador Fouad Chehab Dandan.
"Some recent developments have opened new possibilities to further strengthen bilateral relations between Lebanon and the UAE. Lebanon is seeking the UAE’s expertise in its budding oil and gas sector as the first offshore drilling will start within three weeks," Dandan told WAM, the UAE's state-run news agency.
"More than 300,000 Lebanese expatriates in the UAE turned into the largest overseas Lebanese community in the Arabian Gulf in 2018. Given their immense contributions to the bilateral relations, this development will also have a positive influence," he added.
Dandan's comments come ahead of a visit by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri next week, which aims to improve political and economic relations between the two countries.
Hariri will lead a delegation - which will also include six ministers and other top officials - to attend the UAE-Lebanon Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $790 million, of which exports from Lebanon to the UAE account for $340 million.
"Lebanese in the UAE, belonging to different religions and sects, have been leading a harmonious life for several decades, representing the true spirit of Lebanon. Most of them excel as entrepreneurs and professionals and their success has contributed to the development of the UAE, which is duly recognised here," Dandan added.
Over 300,000 Lebanese nationals are living in the UAE, with a similar number living in Saudi Arabia.
"However, we estimated last year that the UAE’s community could be the largest because the highest amount of foreign remittances from the Gulf to Lebanon came from the UAE in 2018, according to the Lebanese Central Bank," Dandan explained.
Seventy percent of the total remittances received by Lebanon in 2018 were from the Gulf, he added.