Saudi Arabia evacuates 300 citizens from Lebanon amid protests

Saudi Arabia evacuates 300 citizens from Lebanon as protests continue for third day
2 min read
19 October, 2019
Saudi Arabia's embassy in Beirut has confirmed that it facilitated the evacuation of 300 of its citizens from Lebanon, most of whom were tourists.
Lebanon's protests continued for a third day on Saturday [Getty]
Saudi Arabia evacuated 300 of its citizens from Lebanon on Saturday amid ongoing anti-government protests across the country, according to the kingdom's embassy in Beirut.

The Saudi diplomatic mission confirmed it had facilitated the evacuation on Saturday morning, according to The Arab News.

"The evacuation operation, imposed by the security situation in Lebanon and the importance of ensuring the safety of Saudi nationals, started Saturday at 5 am after the Kingdom secured three Saudia aircraft to transport them," the embassy was quoted as saying.

“Three hundred people were evacuated as of Saturday afternoon, while the total number of those wishing to leave remains unclear. We have identified a hotel in Beirut as a starting point.”

The embassy added that the evacuees, most of whom were tourists, were taken to Beirut's Rafic Hariri Airport by Lebanese security forces.

Demonstrations began on Thursday, partly sparked by a proposed tax on calls via messaging apps such as WhatsApp, and grew into the largest in recent years, threatening to topple Prime Minister Saad Hariri's fragile coalition government.

The protesters are demanding a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon's political system, citing grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.

Read more: Lebanon Rises: Second wave of Arab Spring protests arrive in Beirut

Security forces on Friday fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters in Downtown Beirut, with Lebanese media reporting that more than 70 people had been arrested.

Activists who asked to remain anonymous told The New Arab that 300 were arrested. 

By Saturday the number of protesters in Beirut had quadrupled, according to The New Arab's reporter on the ground.

Several Arab states have issued travel advisory to their citizens following the outbreak of protests in Lebanon, including Bahrain and the UAE, who have warned against travel to Lebanon and called on their citizens in the country to leave immediately.

Kuwait's embassy in Lebanon on Friday urged citizens of the Gulf state to hold off on travel to Lebanon via Twitter, while Egypt urged its citizens in the country to avoid the demonstrations.

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