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Riyadh asks its diplomats in Beirut to stay home after Saudi citizen kidnapped in Lebanon 

May 30, 2023 at 8:50 am

A picture shows the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in the Lebanese capital Beirut on October 30, 2021 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi media reported that Riyadh has asked its diplomatic staff in Lebanon to stay home after the kidnapping of a Saudi citizen in Beirut on Sunday.

The Saudi state news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported that the man, who works for Saudi Arabian Airlines, was kidnapped in the commercial district of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi tweeted that the Lebanese security forces are following the case and are communicating with the Saudi ambassador in Beirut.

“So far, the reason for the kidnapping or disappearance has not been revealed,” a Lebanese security source told Reuters, adding that reports of a ransom were being investigated.

Al-Ekhbariya said the kidnappers demanded a $400,000 ransom.

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“What happened affects Lebanon’s relationship with its brotherly [countries]; the perpetrators will be punished harshly,” Mawlawi said.

Saudi-Lebanese relations have witnessed tensions in the past years, in light of the dominance of Hezbollah over the Lebanese government.

Crime rates have increased in Lebanon since 2019, when the economic system collapsed under the weight of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling elite.

The Lebanese pound also collapsed, paralysing the banking sector.