saad hariri
Source: Reuters

According to Arab News, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri has arrived back in Beirut for the first time since announcing his shock resignation in Saudi Arabia more than two weeks ago.

PM Hariri was greeted at Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport by members of the security forces as he disembarked from his plane. He caused a political crisis and stunned many in his country when he quit during a visit to Riyadh.

From the airport, he drove straight to the grave of his late father Rafic Hariri to read a prayer. Asked if had a message for the Lebanese people who have largely united in demanding his return, Hariri said: "Thank you".

Upon his return, he also suspended his decision to resign as Prime Minister at the request of President Michel Aoun to allow for further dialogue, easing a major political crisis.

"Today I presented my resignation to his Excellency the president, and he asked me to temporarily suspend submitting it and to put it on hold ahead of further consultations on the reasons for it," PM Hariri said in a televised speech after Tuesday's meeting at the Baabda presidential palace.

"I expressed my agreement to this request, in the hope that it will form a serious basis for a responsible dialogue," he added.

Hariri denied speculation that Saudi Arabia had forced him to depart as part of a regional power struggle with Iran. Lebanese President Michel Aoun had refused to accept his resignation until he presents it in person.

The pair is due to meet later on Wednesday and Hariri will also take part in the Lebanese independence day celebrations. 

Prime Minister Saad Hariri has close ties with Saudi Arabia and holds both Lebanese and Saudi citizenship, owns properties in the kingdom, and Riyadh is a key backer of his political party, the Future Movement.

Here is how social media reacted to PM Hariri's return to Lebanon:

Hariri's supporters were seen and heard chanting his name near his house...

"He's back in Lebanon, talking about 'suspending' his resignation..."

"Hope Mugabe doesn’t do the same!"