Lebanon, Kuwaitis’ home away from home

Muna Al-Fuzai

When I was a little girl, they taught me that my country Kuwait and Lebanon are similar in many ways, especially when my family and I used to spend our summer vacations there, until the long and bloody civil war appeared and took away many beautiful things with it. Lebanon has been subject to injustice and difficult conditions for many years, yet it managed to unite and defy the circumstances. But, new protests swept Lebanon last weekend.

Thousands of Lebanese people demonstrated in a number of cities against taxes the government announced it would impose next year. Demonstrators gathered in downtown Beirut demanding the downfall of the government. The protests focused on criticism of the government’s management of the economy and the way it seeks to increase national income in the 2020 budget. Protesters burned tires and blocked roads around the country, and security forces used tear gas to disperse them.

On Friday evening, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri gave his cabinet partners 72 hours to come up with a way out of the economic crisis in Lebanon. So, after long hours of angry protests, there was a cautious calm and anticipation waiting for what would be the appropriate solution from the government to fix the situation.

It has been said that the government’s pursuit of new taxes was not the only reason that fueled public anger, but the cost of living also had provoked the anger of the public. After two days of tension, life has returned to normal on most roads in downtown Beirut.

Now, I think that the problem is not with the occurrence of demonstrations, but the dilemma here is that the confidence of the Arab citizen in the government’s performance is often nonexistent or low, which is not surprising because citizens judge things by what they see and deal with on a daily bases. For example, when there is an increase in prices of goods, it is usually not felt by high-income people or government officials, but the first victim is the citizen and expatriate because they bear the burden of increasing prices. So it is natural that the Lebanese people would demand their government to intervene and find a solution.

Kuwaiti-Lebanese relations are not just official ties between friendly countries, but are old, historical ones. Many Kuwaitis have real estate in Lebanon and consider Lebanon their second home. Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development is active in supporting the Lebanese economy and its development projects. This reflects the depth of relationship between the two countries. 

Lebanon today is in a state of calm and anticipation of a government response that satisfies the public, because I believe that the continuation of demonstrations will not be in favor of any group. The Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Lebanon called on citizens who are intending to go to Lebanon to wait because of the demonstrations there, calling on those who are there to be careful and stay away from the gathering areas and of course. This warning is normal under the current circumstances. I believe that everyone is hoping for a good end.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

muna@kuwaittimes.net