Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri on Friday revealed that Saudi citizens were recently kidnapped and robbed in Lebanon, decrying the fact that the perpetrators remained at large although they are “well-known.”
“Some Saudis were kidnapped and robbed in Lebanon and the perpetrators were identified but have not been arrested until the moment,” Asiri said in an interview on MTV.
“I’m speaking now and there is a Saudi man who was robbed of $250,000 and the culprits have been identified but they are still on the loose,” he added.
Asked about the kingdom’s recent warning to its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, the Saudi envoy said: “It is enough for any Saudi official to observe the kidnap operations in Lebanon in order to advise Saudis to go to other places with their children.”
Separately, the Saudi ambassador stressed that his country’s support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is limited to “humanitarian aid, such as equipping hospitals and providing shelter.”
The Saudi foreign ministry issued on Monday a travel restriction advisory to Lebanon, the official SPA news agency said.
“Due to the unstable security situation in Lebanon, the foreign ministry warns its citizens against traveling to Lebanon to maintain their safety, until further notice,” an unidentified high-ranking official in the ministry told the news agency.
Asiri told the National News Agency that the travel warning to Lebanon is due to the recent security incidents including the burning of tires and blocking of roads.
“The kingdom is keen on not jeopardizing the safety of its citizens,” Asiri told the news agency.
He urged the political forces in Lebanon to exert efforts to preserve stability and security in the country.
Asked how the Saudi authorities’ decision would affect the Lebanese tourism season, Asiri said that “the intention behind this decision isn’t to harm Lebanon, but the safety of the Saudis is a priority for the Saudi leadership.”
The warning coincides with the tourist season in Lebanon, a major summer destination for nationals from the oil-rich Gulf region.
Lebanon has recently witnessed a series of incidents across the country and along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
In May, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait advised their citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon and urged their nationals currently present in the country to leave due to the unstable security situation.
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