Photo Credit: DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley / Wikipedia
United Arab Emirates' Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Feb. 18, 2017.

The United Arab Emirates urged its citizens in Lebanon to leave the country “immediately” and return home.

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“In view of the current events and based on the decision to prevent UAE citizens from traveling to Lebanon, which coincided with the decision of the UAE to withdraw its diplomats from Lebanon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation calls on all its citizens to present in Lebanon to return to the UAE as soon as possible,” the statement said.

“His Excellency Khalid Abdullah Belhoul, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, also indicated that in reflection of the UAE’s constant keenness to follow up the situation of its citizens abroad and ensure their safety, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has taken all necessary measures to facilitate the return of its citizens from Lebanon, and also stressed the Ministry’s readiness to harness all capabilities to help any citizen who is in Lebanon in order to return to the UAE,” the statement continued.

The ministry also called on its citizens in Lebanon to “contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s call center.”

The move follows the recall of the UAE’s diplomats from Beirut the day before in solidarity with Saudi Arabia after critical remarks by a Lebanese minister were published over the weekend.

The urgent advice to its citizens to leave the country came shortly after Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi, who made the remarks in an interview this past August – before his appointment as minister – said that resigning from his post was “out of the question.”

Lebanon Faces Regional Diplomacy Crisis After Angering Saudi Arabia

“Khalifa Shaheen al Marar, Minister of State, said the decision to withdraw the diplomats affirms the UAE’s solidarity with the Kingdom in light of the unacceptable approach of some Lebanese officials towards Saudi Arabia,” said a statement on the UAE Foreign Ministry website. “Al Marar pointed to the continuity of work in the Consular Section and Visa Center in the country’s mission to Beirut during the current period,” the statement added.

This is not the first time the UAE has called on its citizens to leave Lebanon and return home; UAE citizens were urged to return home in November 2017 “due to the situations” in Lebanon, in January 2014 “in light of the tense security situation there,” and as far back as August 2012, after a series of kidnappings by Lebanese Shiite gunmen. Most UAE citizens are Sunni Muslims.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.