Generations of Lebanese have migrated by choice or coercion from as early as the 1900s. For trade and later due to the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), many families from Lebanon, including my maternal grandparents and mother, found safety and security in the UAE and settled here. They were followed by many young Lebanese from Generations X and Y, who came here for better prospects.
For my grandparents, moving away from their home country felt like limbo, but for my mother’s generation, the UAE quickly became home, just as the thought of returning to their native country became more distant.
The devastation from the blast that rocked Beirut last Tuesday has caused many Lebanese expats in the UAE, from an estimated 80,000, to not consider repatriation to Lebanon, albeit with a heavy heart. As photos of white roses being handed out by Dubai Airport to the passengers arriving from Lebanon poured in, their tears and relief to be back in Dubai were evident.
My mother calls the UAE her mother and Lebanon her father.
@DubaiAirports on Twitter
It actually brought back the memory of the last time I was returning to Dubai from New York on an Emirates flight, when I encountered a Lebanese lady, who despite having three passports, breathed a sigh of relief and smiled upon her return to the UAE, saying “It feels good to be home.” She told me how many times she tried to return to Lebanon, but decided to finally settle in the UAE, for this is where she has always felt at home.
She also told me how she feared that her children will lose their connection with Lebanon if they don’t ever live there. That made me think of my mother and how it didn’t matter that she had only been to Lebanon for a few months in her lifetime. She’s Lebanese at heart, she calls the UAE her mother and Lebanon her father.
Growing up as the daughter of an Emirati father and a Lebanese mother, I feel proud. I’m honored that the UAE has opened its arms to the Lebanese and provided them with all the reasons to be steadfast, despite what Lebanon has endured.
The relationship between the Lebanese and their beloved Lebanon will never end, but they’ll always find home and solace in the UAE. As they say, Beirut, the city with layers of scars and a mighty heart will rise again from the ashes.
Abu Dhabi, @lebaneseingulf
Nada AlGhurair is an advocate in the making. She attended Latifa School for Girls and then pursued a Bachelor’s degree in law at an esteemed university in London. She’s currently studying for the NY Bar qualification. Through Gen Z Emirati, she’ll take us through her values, of consumption as access rather than a possession, while seeking an individual identity and addressing ethical concerns. She believes in taking advantage of technological advances when dealing with challenging economic, legal and social matters facing her generation.
Cover image credit: @rony_hn