The UAE has maintained its position as a leading investor in Lebanon with its foreign direct investment, FDI, constituting 11 percent of total FDI inflows to Lebanon, according to a top Emirati diplomat.
"The upcoming joint investment forum is a realisation of the vision of the UAE’s leadership for joint Arab action, especially with Lebanon," Hamad Saeed Sultan Al Shamsi, the UAE Ambassador to Lebanon, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, ahead of the second UAE-Lebanon Investment Forum.
The Forum will take place in Abu Dhabi on Monday, 7th October, in the presence of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
About 29 percent of the total FDI inflows to Lebanon were from the Middle East, of which the FDI from the UAE constituted 32 percent, Al Shamsi said, although figures related to amount of investments were not readily available with him.
According to the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon, IDAL, FDI flows to Lebanon jumped by 14 percent to US$2.88 billion in 2018 compared to $2.52 billion in 2017.
The ambassador said that historically the UAE heavily invested in the real estate and commercial sectors in Lebanon.
"The UAE is also looking to expand investments to other areas, such as energy and free zones because the UAE believes that Emirati investments in Lebanon will increase the confidence of investors from other countries to enter the Lebanese market, which will help Lebanon overcome its current economic conditions," he explained.
During the first seven months of this year, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $598 million, of which exports from the UAE were to the tune of $343 million and exports from Lebanon were valued at $255 million, Al Shamsi revealed.
In 2018, bilateral trade accounted for $1.045 billion, of which the exports from the UAE made up $588 million and exports from Lebanon amounted to around $457 million, he added.
A Lebanese official quoted different trade figures for 2018 in an interview with WAM on Friday because both countries employed different statistical methods to calculate bilateral trade figures.
Al Shamsi said the second UAE-Lebanon Investment Forum would usher in a new era of investment in Lebanon, with the participation of both the private and public sectors and supported by the Lebanese government.
Held under the auspices of the UAE Ministry of Economy and Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the forum will have several sessions and workshops that bring UAE investors together with their Lebanese counterparts.
The bilateral relations between the two countries are at their best and the conference in Abu Dhabi reflects the interest of the UAE leadership in Lebanon, the ambassador noted.
He went on to say that the UAE is ready to share its management expertise and the skills of its private sector, including major Emirati companies, to help manage future projects in Lebanon, especially during the upcoming CEDRE [the international conference in support of Lebanon development and reforms].
Commenting on the history of UAE-Lebanon relations, he pointed out that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Founding Father, took the initiative to open the UAE’s second embassy in Beirut (first one was in Egypt), which highlighted the importance of Emirati-Lebanese relations.
The UAE will continue to assist Lebanese institutions and authorities, and support Lebanese security services in their fight against extremism and terrorism, the ambassador emphasised.
Under the directives of its leadership, the UAE is continuing humanitarian development work in Lebanon, especially during the Year of Tolerance, he concluded.