Beirut: UAE businesses should take prime roles in investing in Lebanon’s utility, telecom and energy sectors, according to Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri.
“The UAE stood by Lebanon in good and difficult days ... and we are here to strengthen our cooperation by creating partnerships between our private sectors,” Hariri said. “We hope the Emiratis invest in economic projects in Lebanon,”
The premier was helming the UAE-Lebanon Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi, which also saw senior ministers in his cabinet and Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salama attend.
“Last year we set a road map and plan on how to develop,” Hariri said in a speech at the opening of the Forum. “Lebanon still has a chance despite the difficult conditions it is enduring.
“Lebanon has pride in its private sector ... but the UAE private sector is also prosperous and together we can do a lot. Lebanon seeks to be the same in terms of development and growth,” Hariri said.
Hariri insisted that Lebanon will commit to implementing the decisions taken at the “Cedar” conference in Paris last year and also keep up with the plan of action drawn up by the consultancy McKinsey to revive inward investments. The “Cedar” conference had won pledges of $11 billion (Dh40.3 billion).
Lebanon offers Emirati investors “investment opportunities not available elsewhere in the world” and “a hub for reconstruction in the region”.
“We are here to strengthen our cooperation, especially between the private and public sectors,” said Hariri. “We should both be exchanging investments and especially us, we also have to invest in the UAE. There are lots of private sector projects that could be invested, like electricity, railways and other projects.
“The UAE has been constantly developing and growing ... Lebanon has the will and power to do the same. We should develop ourselves although we have been late in doing so.”
According to Sultan Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, “We believe Lebanon can become a strong economic power in the region. We look forward to increasing investment projects. And this requires continuing dialogue and cooperation. Lebanon is always in our hearts.”
‘No Lebanese government involvement in conflicts’
The Lebanese government is against any activities hostile to the Gulf countries, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said.
“I want to emphasise as head of the government [that] I refuse any form of Lebanese involvement in the conflicts around us. Moreover, I stress that the Lebanese government refuses to intervene or participate in activities of any organisation that is hostile to the Arabian Gulf countries.
“The Lebanese government has taken a decision to disassociate itself from external conflicts and interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. However, this decision is regrettably violated, not by the government but by a political side represented in the government.
“Hezbollah should be accused in its capacity as component of a regional system and not as a party. Lebanon is an integral part of the Arab world, and its stability is governed by the overall stability and security of the Arab world, especially in political and economic spheres.”