Since 2019, the Lebanese government has not been able to stop the economic collapse afflicting Lebanon. On the contrary, the state has resorted to political approaches that have been putting nails in the country’s coffin in general, and the economy in particular. Because of these irresponsible approaches, Arab Gulf states have shut down their doors to the livelihoods of the Lebanese, depriving them of access to the largest import market.
The crisis with Gulf states has prompted Lebanese industrialists to flee Lebanon, where they are paying a very steep price brought about by their state's inability to assume responsibilities.
Lebanon’s government has failed to arrest drug smugglers trafficking narcotics to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Adding fuel to the fire, former Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe insulted Arab Gulf countries and falsely accused them of financing terrorism. At the same time, Information Minister George Kordahi criticized the coalition led by Saudi Arabia against Houthi terrorist militia in Yemen.
“Many of Lebanon's industrialists have already begun to study markets in other countries such as Oman and Egypt, and even Turkey and Cyprus, in search of a place to move their factories, while some closed their factories and dismantled their machines and actually moved,” Vice President of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists Ziad Bekdache told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“We went with a delegation of industrialists to Muscat some time ago to study the market there, and some rented factories while others were studying the possibility of moving,” added Bekdache.
Bekdache moves on to explain that, about four months ago, after a smuggled shipment of Captagon exported from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia was seized, food factories that export in large quantities to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were forced to reduce production or dismantle their machines and move to other countries.
Lebanese food factories, according to Bekdache, rely heavily on their exports to Saudi Arabia.
Exports to the kingdom account for about 60%-65% percent of total production.
Bekdache adds that the untimely comments by Wehbe and Kordahi have led to the barring of all Lebanese exports to Saudi markets. This has spurred fear among Lebanese industrialists that Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE will also ban Lebanese products in their countries.
“Lebanon’s industries have received a very big blow, and the alternative plan will take time,” notes Bekdache.
Stressing that Lebanese industrialists cannot afford to lose access to Gulf markets, Bakdache said “all industrialists are in a stage of brainstorming to know where they will go with their industries next.”