UAE: Thousands turn up to vote in Lebanese parliamentary elections

Over 25,000 people are expected to vote today across the diplomatic missions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi



By Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sun 8 May 2022, 1:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 8 May 2022, 4:07 PM

Thousands of people lined up from as early as 6am to cast their votes in the Lebanese parliamentary elections at the Consulate General of Lebanon in Dubai. Over 25,000 people are expected to vote today across the diplomatic missions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Registered voters have until 10pm to cast their votes for 128 representatives in the parliament.

This is the second time that Lebanese expatriates are getting the opportunity to vote in their parliamentary elections. The first time overseas voting was permitted was in 2018.

Ahmed and Reema Awwad were in line by 8am. “It took us three hours to finish voting,” said Reema. “The process was really well organised and easy to follow.”

“We are hopeful that we can make an impact,” said Ahmed. “Our country needs change, and we hope we can get that with these elections.

Volunteers were handing our umbrellas and bottles of water to those waiting in the hot sun. Priority was given to those with young children and those voters who were above the age of 60.

Socrat Alchamandy is a volunteer who has been at the premises since 6am and he says the huge crowds give him hope.

“It is unusual to see so many people come to vote,” he said. “In Lebanon, the highest turnout we see is roughly about 40 per cent. However, here we are hoping to get a turnout of at least 60 oer cent. We are working hard to push people to vote and make their voice heard. We have so many economic issues back home. We need people to vote for the best candidates so that we can see some change in the way things are.”

More than 220,000 overseas voters have registered to vote in this year’s elections, with France (27,813 registrations), the UAE (25,066 registrations) and Australia (20,661 registrations) having the highest number of registered voters. This is estimated to be a marked increase in the number of people who registered in 2018.

Elie had turned up to vote with his friends and family. “I am excited as I am voting for the first time,” he said. “I’m glad that I have a say in who forms my government, and I am going to use it well.”

With the country facing what the World Bank has described as one of the top three worst economic crises in the last 150 years, these elections will be crucial to the future of Lebanon.

The Beirut blast of 2020, the rampant inflation and a disappearing middle class are all expected to play a significant role in people’s voting preferences.

For Lebanese expat Noel, voting is very important. “Even if you walk into a supermarket, they are going to ask you feedback about your experience,” he said. “Voting is a feedback by the people to their government and it needs to be taken very seriously as they are the ones living through the consequences of the decisions our politicians take. And of course, I believe it is a civic duty that every person should partake in.”

“What I hope for the most from this elections is a country that is good enough to go back to. A lot of us don’t choose to move away from our country and our families because we want to.

"We move because there are certain factors that hold us back. So, I want our country to move forward in such a way that expats like me can return home and continue living and working there without any concerns," Noel added.

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