On Khaled al-Faisal’s Beirut visit, what do we want from Lebanon?
It is not easy for Saudi Arabia to see Lebanon being dragged into non-Arab axes
On March 9, 1973, Lebanese President Sleiman Franjieh visited Saudi Arabia where he met with Saudi officials, including King Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. By the end of the visit, a joint statement was released which read: “During this visit, his Excellency, our great guest, visited the city of Riyadh and the cities of Dammam and Jeddah and checked out the landmarks of construction and economic boom and the great achievements fulfilled by the Saudi kingdom. Our guest was warmly received by Saudi leaders and people thus expressing their feelings of true friendship toward their brothers, the Lebanese people and their leaders.”
On November 21, 2016, Khaled al-Faisal was dispatched by King Salman to Lebanon and he was tasked with delivering two letters. The first one is an invitation to the Lebanese president to visit Saudi Arabia. The second one is from the Saudi people who wish Lebanon well and who want stability and prosperity for the country. Those who know the history of ties between the Lebanese and Saudis are well-aware of the extent of the damage which any unrest in Lebanon may cause as the latter is the “thermometer” of regional tensions. It is also the most significant indicator of the future as stability in Lebanon underlies potential for a calm atmosphere and vice versa.
Khaled al-Faisal visited Lebanon, representing the legacy of relations between King Salman and journalists, intellectuals and thinkers in Lebanon.
It is not easy for Saudi Arabia to see Lebanon being dragged into non-Arab axes, especially when it’s an ancient country known for its Arabism.
Lebanon is an issue of concern for Saudi Arabia and King Salman wants Lebanon to remain as it is, with Arab orientations and identity.
This article was first published in Okaz on November 28, 2016.
Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.