Lebanon: What's a Passport Worth? A Bitter Discussion

A Lebanese Passport.. one of the worst 10 passports to hold. Photo credit: Blogger Ali Sleeq

A Lebanese Passport.. one of the worst 10 passports to hold. Photo credit: Blogger Ali Sleeq

It was no big surprise to see the Lebanese passport amongst the 10 worst in the world in terms of freedom of travel and restrictions. The Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index published earlier last week did, however, highlight the morose status of the Land of the Cedars and spark bitter reactions on all fronts. At least blogger @AbirGhattas did not miss the irony in the perspective of Lebanon's notorious and dramatic racism problem:

It must be very hard on the “madame” that she is on the same list with the “help” originating from Nepal, Sudan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Of course the joke doesn't end here since the Lebanese General Security promptly issued a press release stating “The Lebanese passport is the best in the world.” The official statement adds that Lebanon would soon adopt an “advanced” biometric passport.

It didn't impress anyone:

Revolution 961 calculates that the Lebanese passport is also one of the most expensive to obtain:

With only 5,296,760 Km2 that someone holding a Lebanese passport can visit without a visa, a Lebanese citizen should pay a world high 40$ ( and 70$ if you need it the same day ) to get that famous blue passport for 1 year. On the other hand, Danish and Japanese passports for example, allow for more than 73,000,000 Km2, which is more than 15 times than our passport. But a Danish pays 10.4$ for a year ( 104$ for a 10 year passport), while a Japanese pays 13.5$ (135$ for 10 years) .

The perspective of biometrics data is not really something to look forward to either, blogger Gino calls it like he sees it:

As for the “new biometric data” thing, that only means one thing: MORE MONEY! =D We already pay hundreds of dollars to renew our flimsy passports for a few years (the most expensive I believe?) Adding RFID chips and doing the biometric analysis means only one thing: someone close to the General Security or one of the politicians/warlords will take the exclusive rights to that, charge us exorbitant amounts, and make millions for a passport that will remain equally useless and frustrating.

Meanwhile, @eliefares from A Separate State of Mind deplored the fact that while reactions ranged from denial to outrage, little is done to actually help improve the situation:

(…) a passport’s merits aren’t in the way it looks, its size or the feeling it has in your hand or how efficiently it gets scanned at border controls. But don’t tell people that because we can twist any simple data we have into whatever gets us to sleep better at night. Let’s call it a way of life. Let’s call it perpetuating the status quo. Do Lebanese really want to improve their passport? By the looks of it, many of them probably couldn’t care less.

What's in a passport anyway? In a world where national borders are significantly fading out amongst some countries, while others remain virtually locked out, a passport can mean everything. An increasing number of people may feel like citizens of the world, but their country of origin plays a big role in determining the social and economic opportunities they'll have access to. In a country of so many turmoils, dual citizenship becomes a coveted goal.

This is why @Khaladk‘s tweet may seem weird, but it's a sentence often heard in Beirut:

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