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UAE travel ban lifted, most will continue to visit Lebanon

DUBAI // Lebanese and Emiratis in the UAE said they would continue travelling to Lebanon, whether a travel ban was in place or not.

Mohammed Al Awadhi, an Emirati from Dubai, said the recently lifted travel advisory put out by the Government was more of a warning for citizens to be careful.

“We don’t really feel like it’s a ban,” he said. “My brother-in-law was there two weeks ago and it was fine.”

Earlier this year the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, issued a travel ban to Lebanon after a number of security incidents took place, including abductions and bombings.

Last week, Saudi Arabia lifted its ban and it is believed the UAE has followed suit.

“The Government advises us in case we want to go to hot zones, such as Lebanon and Thailand,” said Mr Al Awadhi. “But we can’t compare Lebanon with Afghanistan or Nigeria where killings and chaos are the norm. The point is more for police and military to be careful because there are a lot of kidnappings of [Gulf] nationals.”

He said, however, he would only travel to Lebanon if he knew someone there.

“I went with an Emirati friend and we stayed in a Christian area because it was considered safer,” he said. “I know some Emirati friends and businessmen who have been going there regularly for the past 20 years so it was not a big issue.

“I don’t worry if I go there because I have friends and I can manage. At least, in Lebanon, they speak Arabic so you can’t get lost in translation.”

Caline El Khouri, a Lebanese who has been living in Abu Dhabi for seven years, travels back home almost five times a year. “I always see lots of international people on the flight and I was surprised there was even a ban,” she said.

“There are a lot of foreigners in Lebanon. Every two to three months, I go for four days and I’ve never changed my plan because my family is there, so if something were to happen, I’d rather be with them.”

Maia Bulbul, a Lebanese resident of Dubai, said she doubted the travel ban ever factored into a Lebanese native’s travel plans.

“As sad as it is, we’re used to political instability and the whole intermittent car-bomb situation,” she said. “The situation in Lebanon is seldom ever stable, that’s a reality with which we’ve learned to live.”

Tarek Saidi, also Lebanese, said he was pleased because the lift would boost Lebanon’s economy.

“The fact that the ban is there or not doesn’t affect my travel decision,” he said. “I’m happy that the ban is lifted, however, to re-ignite tourism in Lebanon.”

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(via The National)