Skip to main content

Qatar challenges Saudi influence in Lebanon

There has been a vacuum created by a decline of Saudi influence in Lebanon that Qatar now seeks to fill.
Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani meets with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun as he arrives to attend the Arab Economic and Social Development summit meeting in Beirut, Lebanon January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir - RC1CA2F76AB0

For years, Lebanon’s economic credentials have been sinking. The country with the world’s third highest public debt to gross domestic product ratio has paid an economic price for the decline in tourism from Gulf Cooperation Council states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the backdrop of major financial burdens imposed by the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis.

Within this context, on Jan. 21 Qatar announced that it will bolster the ailing Lebanese economy by investing up to $500 million in Lebanese government bonds. This cash infusion will provide the bond market with assurances following Lebanese officials’ hints at a debt restructuring later this month that spooked markets as Lebanese politicians rushed to convince investors that their money was secure in the country. Whether Qatar plans to purchase foreign-currency bonds or local-currency debt remains unclear.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.