IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The United Arab Emirates has joined Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain in advising its citizens not to travel to Lebanon, following the unexpected resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in a televised address from Riyadh earlier this month.

What does the change mean? Citizens of Gulf countries may face difficulties traveling to Lebanon and the situation may also make it more difficult for Lebanese citizens to get employment residence visas in Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work and residence visas.
  • Who is affected: Lebanese nationals in GCC countries and GCC citizens now in Lebanon or planning travel to Lebanon. GCC members include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Business impact: The regional standoff may disrupt business schedules and travel plans.
  • Next steps: Employers should account for any employees currently in Lebanon who are nationals of the four Gulf countries and other GCC countries and consider repatriation. Also, recruiters should be aware of the potential for increased delays and rejection of Lebanese nationals’ applications for residence visas in GCC countries.

Background: Hariri’s resignation on Nov. 4 while in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation that he is under house arrest in Riyadh, though he denies that he is restrained from travel and said in a televised interview Sunday that he will return to Lebanon in a matter of days. Hariri claimed he resigned because of fears of assassination and in protest over Iran’s meddling in Lebanese affairs. Iran is Saudi Arabia’s main political rival.

BAL Analysis: Companies sending employees and assignees between Lebanon and Gulf countries should be aware that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have told their citizens to leave Lebanon immediately and that the UAE has advised its citizens not to travel to Lebanon.