BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk wrapped up an official visit to the United Arab Emirates Wednesday after meeting Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi.
The two officials discussed matters of common interest, the National News Agency said, adding that Machnouk praised the UAE’s “wise leadership,” which has embraced Lebanese expatriates by opening up development opportunities for them.
Nahyan praised the Lebanese community residing in the UAE and their enterprising role.
He also pointed out that Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s first leader after it became an independent nation in 1971, had instructed on more than one occasion to embrace Lebanese coming to the country, stressing that “the Emirati people hold a special love for the Lebanese, reflected everywhere.”
Machnouk presented Nahyan with an honorary shield, a replica of the first Lebanese flag signed by Lebanese leaders in 1943, the year in which Lebanon became independent.
The interior minister then made his way to the Lebanese Embassy in Abu Dhabi – the largest of the emirates – and had lunch with Lebanese Ambassador to the UAE Hasan Saad, along with a number of diplomats, ambassadors and businessmen.
He also attended the wedding of UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s nephew. He met with high-ranking Emirati officials at the event, and discussed bilateral relations, before returning to Lebanon from Abu Dhabi airport.
Machnouk began his visit to the emirates Monday, when he announced a tour of several Gulf states aimed at encouraging tourism and winning support for Lebanon’s security services. He urged UAE residents to visit Lebanon for their summer vacation now that the situation is stable, and said there were signs that the emirate would lift its advisory warning against travel to Lebanon.
Machnouk said his visit would restore the trust and admiration that previously characterized relations between Lebanon and the UAE.
Saudi Arabia lifted its travel advisory for Lebanon earlier this month and other Gulf countries are expected to follow suit. The advisory was initially issued by the Gulf countries in mid-2012, apparently due to the deteriorating security situation.
A series of bombings rocked Lebanon at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, mainly targeting areas associated with Hezbollah.
Most of the attacks were claimed by Syrian rebel groups who said they were retaliating against the party’s military role in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad.