By: Yasma Baalbaki, Opinion Section Editor, The Pawprint
Due to the poor situation in Lebanon, Lebanese expats are hoping to replant their cracked roots by establishing new homes outside of Lebanon specifically in the United Arab Emirates.
Lebanon has been infected with corruption, poor economy, hunger, pain, death, COVID-19 and lack of education. The past two years have been a snowball for Lebanon, accumulating issues here and there. The only remedy for Lebanon is the unification of its people.
On August 4th, 2020 an explosion occurred in the port of Beirut causing tremendous damage. From this point onward, people started leaving Lebanon in hope for a better future. Furthermore, the value of the Lebanese pound decreased in the blink of an eye. Many people found themselves with very little money receiving less than half of their previous wages. The economic situation has been declining for a while but the government didn’t act upon the first symptom of this crisis. Additionally, the global pandemic Covid-19 worsened the situation and created a fall in the health sector. According to Reuters, around 1,200 doctors are estimated to have left Lebanon. In addition, the Lebanese found themselves with no gas, no bread, no electricity and no medicines this summer. These events have left scars in people’s hearts.
The United Arab Emirates has always been a destination for Lebanese businesses and professionals because of the recurring instability in Lebanon. The presence of some familiar Lebanese names and faces in the UAE is a push factor for the Lebanese. Opposing their homeland, the United Arab Emirates offers stability, security, peace of mind and a better future. In fact, according to Gulf Today, “Some 350,000 Lebanese now live and work in the six Gulf nations, more than 100,000 of them in the UAE alone, mostly in Dubai”. Plus, Reuters showed many examples of individuals escaping Lebanon to the UAE: First of all,“32-year-old Michelle Chaaya was a human resources professional at a multinational firm in Lebanon. Now she works as a bartender in Dubai, sending cash to her family back home where a financial crisis has left many destitute”. Second of all,“Soha, 28, came to Dubai to look for work after the bookshop cafe where she was employed in Beirut was damaged in the port explosion.”
Taking a closer look at the Gems Dubai American Academy community, some may have noticed an increase in Lebanese students especially this year. Based on data gathered from the school, there are 47 new Lebanese students who joined the year (2021-2022). Last year (2020-2021), 29 new students enrolled. However, these numbers don’t portray all new lebanese at the school as some of them are registered with two passports.
A recent survey was sent out to new Lebanese students at DAA. The survey was filled out by eight students and contained questions about their move. Based on the data analysis, 62.5% of the respondents came straight from Lebanon and 16.7% of the moves were spontaneous. The primary reasons pushing them to leave their home were: the overall bad situation, the economic crisis, the aftermath of the explosion, political problems and the gas situation. The respondents stressed upon the fact that they felt unsafe, scared and deprived of their rights while living in Lebanon. On the other hand, they explained that the Lebanese people are irreplaceable. Lebanon is known for its kind, compassionate, positive and down to earth population. They also expressed their love for the beautiful climate and nature and the tasty food back home. However, they also mentioned that Dubai is safer and more advanced than Lebanon. A student stated: “Dubai has a stable economy with obtainable gas and a working government.”
Zooming in more on DAA, all respondents claimed they are happy in their new school and, 83.3% believed that DAA offers a homely environment. Moreover, all respondents noticed a large Lebanese community at the school, they explained how this made them feel more comfortable and less ostracized.
Lots of Lebanese left their home yearning for a better future somewhere around the globe. DAA is the perfect example for this phenomenon.