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Old May 8th, 2006, 10:49 AM   #1
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Arrow Economic/Business News Briefs

Anything related to business and economy in Lebanon can be posted here...




Saudi Arabia extends $100 million to fund oil by-products to Lebanon

MENAFN - 03/05/2006 Saudi Arabia's Development Fund and an Islamic development bank has completed $100 million worth of credit facilities to fund Saudi oil by-products to the Lebanese council of development and construction, KUNA reported.

The director of Saudi exports department of the Fund, said in a statement the Fund's total support for Saudi exports to Lebanon has amounted to $200 million.

The official added that these facilities were within the distinguished relations with Lebanon and part of the Saudi government's bids to activate trade with friendly and neighboring countries.

Saudi Arabia launched a program to support national exports in 2001, and has so far extended $933 million.

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Old May 11th, 2006, 10:20 PM   #2
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Elecon Middle East 2006
June 06 - June 10 2006

The 11th International Electricity, Controls, Lighting & Airconditioning Exhibition for the Middle East

Construction boom fuels growth for electrical sector

Construction projects valued at over 6 Billion US$ are currently underway, as the new Lebanese government launches the latest phase of rebuilding. Part of this sum will be used for the expansion and development of electrical networks, while the countless building projects fuel opportunities for all types of electrical supplies and equipment. The current construction boom in the private sector in Lebanon and throughout the region is contributing to the huge increase in demand.

The largest gathering of industry professionals in the region

Now in it's 11th year Elecon 2006 offers suppliers unrivaled opportunities at the largest gathering of it's kind in the region. Held at BIEL (Beirut International Exhibition & Leisure Center) the newest and most prestigious venue in the Middle East, the show will display the latest product offerings from world famous leading brand names. Important trade buyers from throughout the region will attend to secure new agency agreements and source their needs. It is the perfect forum for industry suppliers to showcase their products and expand business at the center of one of the world's largest rebuilding projects, and gateway to Middle East markets.

From infrastructure works to private sector needs

The major rehabilitation and expansion of power networks continues apace across the region. Power generation, transmission and distribution systems are all in demand, as well as supplies and expertise. Private sector development is at an all-time high, fuelled by increasing population and housing boom. Tourism is fueling the rapid expansion of hotels and leisure facilities. This is creating the current demand for all types of equipment: HVAC, safety and security systems, lighting systems, solar systems and energy-saving devices.
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Old May 13th, 2006, 08:14 PM   #3
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Lebanon sees growth at 4-5%
Reuters

Lebanon’s economy is expected to grow by about four or five per cent in 2006, which is one per cent more than last year’s, said central bank Governor Riad Salameh.
Salameh also said planned economic reforms, which would include the long-delayed privatization of public assets, would help curb the country’s public debt.
“The economic and financial situation in Lebanon is positive. We expect the economy to grow between four and five per cent in 2006,” he told an economic conference in Beirut.
The February 2005 killing of former prime minister and billionaire Rafik Hariri shook the economy, prompting capital outflows of around $2 billion, bankers say. But that cash is now pouring back into the country’s stock market and real estate sector.
“Moving immediately and quietly to control the debt is possible... through privatization and the expansion of the economy,” Salameh said. The government has prepared a package of much-needed reforms to present to potential lenders at a donor conference.
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Old May 13th, 2006, 08:21 PM   #4
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Lebanese Canadian Bank eyes $100 million in IPO
5/12/2006
Reuters

Lebanese Canadian Bank plans an initial public offering on the Beirut bourse and a listing in London this year to raise around $100 million to fund growth, its chairman said.

“Our mission is to serve Lebanese residents and non-residents so we try to go wherever there is a concentration of Lebanese. This needs a lot of capital and the healthiest approach to increasing capital is through an IPO,” Chairman Georges Zard Abou Jaoude told Reuters in an interview.
“If some of our plans become concrete, we might be looking for a cushion of around $100 million. This will take us to $300 million in equity.”
Abou Jaoude said the London listing would be through Global Depositary Receipts.

Lebanese Canadian is one of Lebanon’s fastest-growing banks, and the chairman said it planned to increase its branches in Lebanon and expand to Algeria through an acquisition there.
It would also launch private banking operations in London and Dubai, and is looking seriously at the Iraqi market.

“For the last five years we had the best return-on-equity in the market. This year we will do the same with at least a 30 percent increase in net profits,” he said.

Net income in 2005 was around $26 million, according to figures published on Lebanese Canadian’s Web site.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 02:14 AM   #5
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Cement deliveries up by 123.6%
Lebanon Weekly Monitor


Figures released by the Bulletin of Indices show that cement deliveries totaled 224,335 tons in February 2006, up by 35% over the month and by a significant 123.6% from February 2005.

Cement deliveries totaled 390,570 tons in the first two months of 2006, up by 66.8% from 234,162 tons in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The increase in cement deliveries is in line with increasing regional demand, largely linked to Iraq’s reconstruction needs.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 02:19 AM   #6
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Credit Libanais Increases Capital by $102 million
The Lebanon Brief

Credit Libanais s.a.l announced an increase in its capital from LP96bn ($63.7m) to LP250bn ($165.8m) through the issuance of 15.4m ordinary shares for LP10,000 ($6.6) per share.

This $102m capital increase aims at financing the bank’s regional expansion in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. The new bank in Syria, to be established in partnership with UAE-based Mashreqbank and Syrian investors will have a capital of around $35m. In addition, Credit Libanais will have a 10% stake in a new bank to be established in Yemen with a $54m capital. As for the bank in Iraq, Credit Libanais is expected to receive the Iraqi authorities approval to own a 75% share in a new bank to be established with a capital of $32.5m. Credit Libanais’s unaudited financial statements for 2005 show a net income of $23m, up 21.6% year-on-year.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 04:05 AM   #7
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CDR unveils $11.6billion investment program for next 10-15 years

5/15/2006
The Lebanon Brief

The Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) revealed its investment program in equipment and public services for the coming 10 to 15 years, funded by a $600,000 donation form the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD).

The overall cost of implementing this plan over the next twelve years will amount to $11.6bn. After the execution of this plan, the value of public service projects and equipment will amount to $28.2bn compared to a current value of $17.7bn, with the annual cost of maintenance as well as rehabilitation and replacement amounting to $619m and $227m compared to the current $310m and $303m respectively.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 08:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
UAE'S DEYAAR ANNOUNCES 100 PCT INCREASE IN CAPITAL BASE

DUBAI, May 22 Asia Pulse - Deyaar, one of the UAE's largest diversified real estate companies, has announced a 100 per cent increase in its paid up capital from AED 500 million (US$136 million) to AED 1 billion. A decision in this regard was recently approved by the boards of directors of Deyaar and its parent company, Dubai Islamic Bank respectively.

....

Zack Shahin, CEO of Deyaar said: "Deyaar has embarked on a major expansion plan, investing in new projects in the UAE, Lebanon, Turkey and Sudan. "

http://au.biz.yahoo.com/060522/17/pyvj.html




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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:06 PM   #9
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Nokia is opening of a new office in Beirut, which will cater to Nokia's business in the Levant. The office is the first for Beirut and Lebanon and will also be critical in Nokia's ongoing efforts to build presence in the area and in strengthening relationships with governments and key industry players.

The office will play an important role in serving Nokia's rapidly expanding consumer base in the market by giving consumers access to Nokia's latest mobile telecommunications technologies and to the expertise that supports them. Nokia recognises the area's ever-changing telecommunication environment, driven by increased technological complexity, rapid subscriber growth, convergence, and the consequent need by both network operators and consumers for greater levels of solution customisation and local support as reasons for the creation of an additional hub and corporate office.

The addition of the Beirut office to the many offices that the company has set up recently across Middle East and Africa reflects the company's commitment to getting closer and closer to its consumers, distributors and operators.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:45 PM   #10
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well they picked the perfect country ... wat is it with lebanese's obsession with Nokia and Motorola? Nokia mainly...
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 10:51 PM   #11
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great news

May 22, 2006
NBC News Setting Up Shop in Beirut
Engel Tapped for Bureau Chief
By Michele Greppi
NBC News is establishing a Middle East bureau in Beirut, Lebanon, and Richard Engel, who has lived in the region for more than a decade, has been named the network's Middle East correspondent and chief of the bureau.

Story continues below...


Mr. Engel, who is fluent in Arabic, has been at the forefront of NBC's coverage from its Baghdad bureau for more than three years and will continue to cover Iraq on assignment. He also will expand his Blogging Baghdad Web page to include stories from outside Iraq.

The new Beirut bureau will be NBC's first on that turf since the mid-1970s.

In addition to Baghdad bureaus, CBS News has a bureau in Tel Aviv, Israel, and an office in Amman, Jordan; and ABC News has bureaus in Jerusalem and Cairo.

Mr. Engel will continue to cover Iraq on assignment and will broaden the focus of his Web page on MSNBC.com, Blogging Baghdad, to include stories, anecdotes, analysis and personal reflections outside of Iraq.

NBC News President Steve Capus said in Monday's announcement: "This is a real commitment of resources during an extremely important point in time, especially in that unique part of the world."

NBC News' choice of Beirut involved such considerations as its airports being well connected to the rest of the Middle East and its status as an international media hub, as well as its mix of religious and ethnic groups that have interests in changes in the region.

"Lebanon is a small country with a well-educated population that quickly reflects the political and religious swings in the Middle East," Mr. Engel continued. "Eighteen different religious sects live in Lebanon, which is also heavily influenced by Iran, Syria, Israel, Europe and the United States. It is difficult for something to happen in the Middle East and not 'feel it' in Lebanon."
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Old May 28th, 2006, 09:02 PM   #12
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Industry News


Construction permits in Lebanon up 81.7% up to April 2006 - 5/26/2006


According to the Lebanese Order of Engineers, total area of construction permits reached 3.706.122m2 in the first four months of 2006, up 81.7% from the same period in 2005.
The highest increase was witnessed in Mount Lebanon (117.7%), then Beirut (85%), and the lowest increase was in the North (35.9%). The major proportion of the total area of construction permits was for residential purposes (74%), followed by commercial use (7.7%), then for agricultural and industrial uses (2.1). The Order of Engineers said that the size of investments accompanying this growth is estimated at $1bn, of which 25% comes from the Gulf.
The Lebanon Brief
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:36 AM   #13
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Lebanon makes progress in fight against software piracy
Lebanon has made strides over the last year in its efforts to bring down software piracy rate in the country and has dropped out of the list of 20 global nations with the highest piracy rates, according to a new study released by Business Software Alliance (BSA), the organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 10:07 AM   #14
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Yes,Nadini,i don't know if this related to investment news.But here's the article.

Lebanon makes 'creditable' headway in war against pirated software


BEIRUT: Police raids on shops selling pirated software programs and games and a strong commitment by the government to crack down on intellectual property (IP) violations has helped Lebanon to reduce its international piracy rating in 2005.

According to a study by Business Software Alliance (BSA), the organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world, Lebanon has made strides over the last year in its efforts to bring down software piracy rate in the country and has dropped out of the list of 20 global nations with the highest piracy rates.

The independent study conducted by the International Data Corporation, the IT industry's leading global market research and forecasting firm, showed Lebanon's piracy rate to have declined from 75 percent in 2004 to 73 percent in 2005. Total losses incurred by Lebanon on account of software piracy in 2005 totaled $36 million.

Lebanon's piracy level is still way above the global average of 35 percent as well as the Middle East average of 57 percent. According to the BSA study, global losses from software piracy amounted to $34 billion in 2005, an increase of $1.6 billion over the previous year. The countries with the largest percentage point drop in piracy rate during the past year were Ukraine with six points, and China, Russia and Morocco with four points each.

Lebanon came under increasing pressure from the Western nations and UN bodies to stamp out copyright violations.

The World Trade Organization made it very clear to the Lebanese government that the country will not join the trade organization if it does not improve its copyright record.

Police have even raided shops in areas that once were considered off limits to the Lebanese authorities.

"We have gone to areas like the southern suburbs, a strong Hizbullah stronghold, and neighborhoods close to Palestinian refugee camps, Aly Harakeh, a spokesperson for the BSA, told The Daily Star.

"To achieve a two percentage point reduction even as the global piracy rate has remained unchanged is indeed creditable," said Harakeh.

"The drop in Lebanon's piracy level was a result of a government commitment to protect IP rights as well as a concerted effort with the industry to increase awareness and introduce special plans to reduce the cost of hardware and software acquisition for businesses and individuals."

He added that although the progress made has been impressive it is imperative local enforcement authorities maintain enforcement momentum and step up their campaign to protect IP rights, especially that all the elements are now in place with the creation of a special police unit to assist in the fight against intellectual property theft."

Robert Holleyman, BSA president and CEO, commented, "The progress made in reducing software piracy in several emerging markets is encouraging. However, more than one out of every three copies of PC software put into use in 2005 was still obtained illegally, meaning much more needs to be done to tackle software piracy around the world."
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Old June 3rd, 2006, 12:24 AM   #15
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from hospitality.net (May 24, 2006)

...More visitors need more places to stay, and several building projects are underway. Iconic designer Philippe Starke has chosen Beirut as the site for his first hotel in the Middle East, while Campell Gray Hotels plan to open a boutique hotel in 2007. The same year will see a new Four Seasons open, along with Grand Hyatt and Solidere Rotana Suites.


and again from Deoartures.com (May-June 2006)

... Across the Mediterranean to Lebanon, where Gordon Campbell Gray—the man behind London's One Aldwych and Antigua's Carlisle Bay—has let the news slip about his next venture, a yet-unnamed spot in Beirut. It may be just what the former war zone needs to be taken seriously by discerning travelers in the mood for something a little, well, emerging?


on the website http://www.campbellgrayhotels.com/mainworks.htm
it seems that the beirut property will open spring 07. anybody has an idea where this will be located?

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Old June 3rd, 2006, 12:46 AM   #16
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Siniora vows to create jobs by privatizing telecommunications

Premier Fouad Siniora said the government will pursue the liberalization of the telecom sector and develop IT in order to create more jobs. Speaking at a news conference at the Grand Serail to launch the HIGHLEB initiative aimed at providing framework for developing the technology sector in Lebanon, Siniora promised to establish the new regulatory body in two months. The body will supervise the privatization of telecommunications and electricity.

Privatization of telecommunications is seen as a key element in the five-year economic plan. But the political wrangling has torpedoed the government's attempts to sell the telecommunications sector, which generates over $1.3 billion for the government each year, to private companies.

Siniora said the government's plan was to privatize 40 percent of the telecommunications industry in the fist two years and then offer the remaining shares to the public.

He added the high-speed internet DSL will be introduced in the coming few weeks.

The prime minister also said that Lebanon hopes to persuade Arab satellite stations to base their operations here. - The Daily Star
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Old June 3rd, 2006, 08:38 PM   #17
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Paris of the Middle East rebuilds

Beirut is shaking off its war- torn past to recreate itself, writes Emma Levine

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Beirut is shaking off its war- torn past to recreate itself, writes Emma Levine

B eirut drivers have a dreadful reputation, even in the context of the Middle East. For every screech of wheels taking a corner too fast, there are a dozen cases of reckless lane swapping. Crossing the road is a visitor's main challenge.

I am introduced to highway code, Lebanon-style, while squeezed in the back of a taxi with two large women. From the chic designer-boutique area of Verdun, we weave a few kilometers northeast along the Corniche, the Mediterranean promenade, to the central district known as downtown.

The ride is a medley of contrasting sights: half-destroyed buildings, their walls peppered with huge bullet holes struggle to stay up; adjacent are their pristine neighbors, the sheen of newly built high-rise towers. Scattered around the area are numerous cranes and building sites. Palm trees fringe the roads in between.

Beirut as a holiday resort might not sound so appealing but this once- popular destination is desperately trying to shake off its war-battered image. A huge rebuilding project, one of the world's largest, has been transforming the city center, but officials and locals don't want tourists to have to wait the 20 years it's likely to complete.

The mood is buoyant, hefty investment by wealthy Lebanese expatriates indicates optimism for the future and the number of new hotels, shopping and dining areas is increasing. Beirut is definitely making a welcome return to the tourist map.

During its 1960s and 70s heyday, Lebanon's capital wore its "Paris of the Middle East" badge with pride, a prominent destination for the jet-set who descended on the stylish paradise of designer boutiques, cocktail bars, the famous Casino du Liban and the best in international cuisine. They loved the azure Mediterranean, the archaeological sites and the mountain resorts. The eclectic mix of people and cultures made it popular especially with residents of the Arab Gulf states, who flocked to this unique city in the midst of a conservative world, a cultural crossroads linking East and West, a mix of Christian, Sunni, Shia and Druze inhabitants. It also held a prominent position as the region's financial hub.

Then everything changed.

A lengthy and bloody civil war between 1975 and 1990 killed about 150,000 people, injuring many more. It fragmented the country and kept visitors away, bar foreign correspondents and United Nations peacekeepers. For residents, it was a living hell.

Beirut was divided along religious and ideological lines: East Beirut (taken over by Christian forces) and West Beirut (Muslim and Palestinian militia) was divided by the Green Line of demarcation, extending from Martyr's Square in the historic center, along Damascus Road to the south.

The Central District, once a mixed area, became the main combat zone. A quarter of the population fled the country during those years. The economic infrastructure was ruined, national output cut by half.

But for the few bullet-damaged buildings remaining, it's now hard to imagine the city's horrific history: The new streets of downtown with restored facades are awash with fashionable shops and street cafes.

A vibrant arts and fashion scene is flourishing; on warm evenings and weekends the Corniche is busy with promenading families and rollerblading teenagers; and there is a new energetic nightlife on the busy streets of Gemaysiyeh, a Lan Kwai Fong equivalent packed with restaurants and bars - more earthy than the jet-set days, but nonetheless a welcome part of life for the locals. Everywhere, construction cranes dot the horizon.

At the heart of the reconstruction is Solidere - the Lebanese company for the development of Beirut central district - which embarked on the mammoth project in 1995, on a site of about 1.2 million meters. It involved constructing pedestrianised streets, offices, residential areas and government buildings. But this isn't just any war- torn city - Beirut's center contains a plethora of sites and monuments spanning 5,000 years, with layers of civilizations spanning Canaanite to Ottoman, Phoenician, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman, among others.

"This is a very important area, because it is the geographic and historical heart of the Lebanese capital," explains the cheerful Nabil Rached from Solidere, showing me around the model of the area.

"We have always insisted on recreating this area in its spirit, as a vibrant city center with a mix of commerce, history, administration, residential and entertainment."

The company set out a definitive strategy to preserve Beirut's history, integrating archaeological discoveries with new urban design, high quality environment and infrastructure. The rebuilding of the souks, or markets, is a prime example: Completely destroyed during the war, they have been restored in the same form and location, designed by award-winning architects Rafael Moneo and Kevin Dash.

The ambitious redesign of the city's layout meant radical contemporary development, and also enabled its historical highlights, such as the Roman Baths, to have more prominence.

Several of these ancient sites will be linked for a walking tour, "taking in 5,000 years of history in 500 meters," as Rached describes it.

The other main tourist attraction will be a three-tier sea-front promenade, along the 700,000m of reclaimed land.

Even the new residential blocks being added, as well as the restoration of those badly damaged, are staying faithful to traditional architecture.

"The achievements are impressive. The focus has been on architecture and design but the greater challenge is to create an inclusive urban fabric. It is easier to rebuild roads and parks than it is to strengthen social cohesion and bring the city back together," urban sociologist Dr Katya Simons, a planning consultant with Solidere, said in Planners Network magazine.

Beirut now has the second-most expensive real estate in the Middle East North Africa region (after Kuwait) with office space in the downtown central district averaging US$380 (HK$2,965) per meter, effectively pricing first-time buyers out of the market. Protests about this have been glossed over, together with the despair of unemployment at an estimated 25 percent.

Yet there is undoubtedly a feeling of renewal and a fervent willingness to forget the past. According to Rached, the project is expected to create some 100,000 new jobs.

Politicians and entrepreneurs know the value of a healthy tourism industry and are desperate to get visitors back. Joseph Sarkis, Lebanon's minister for tourism, wants it to be the main player in the national economy, especially with no oil or mining industry to help pay back the huge national debt.

"Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East, and Lebanon was known as the Switzerland of the Middle East. These [the 1960s and 70s] were the golden days, where no tourism existed in the region apart from Lebanon. I remember the beautiful hotels, the celebrities and personalities ... we want people to come back now."

One market in particular has caught his eye.

"China is a special country and very important for us. We have just signed an executive agreement and will start creating our tourist offices over there."

It is only a matter of time, he says, before formalities will be minimized and Chinese visitors will be issued visas on entry to Lebanon, as are most other nationalities.

As Sarkis continues, it is almost possible to hear the cash registers ringing in his mind.

"Last year, 20 million people departed China as tourists. It is expected that in 2010, that figure will be around 80 to 100 million. They are now becoming rich people, business people, and we want to have a part of this market in Lebanon."

While the war ended 16 years ago, Beirut exists in a politically volatile area and the country has endured years of Syrian occupation.

In February, just when the country was getting back on its feet and tourists were returning, prime minister Rafik Hariri and several of his bodyguards were killed when a huge explosion destroyed his motorcade near the waterfront. A charismatic billionaire - and majority shareholder in Solidere - many believed the bomb destroyed Lebanon's best hope for the future. It was certainly a major setback to the country's progress and economic recovery. Hariri had served as prime minister for 10 years between 1992 and 2005, and was credited with securing the 1989 Ta'if peace accord which put an end to the war. Huge demonstrations were held in the city shortly after his death, demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

Another, albeit minor, setback occurred in February when Muslim rioters protesting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed printed in European newspapers set fire to the Danish Embassy in Beirut. The incident was passed off as unrepresentative of the country's politics but it fuelled a stereotype of unrest.

There is enough evidence of tourists avoiding the capital. The newly restored National Museum in Beirut, with exhibits ranging from Pharaonic tablets with hieroglyphics to huge fourth- century mosaics, remained empty on a Saturday afternoon, save for a small Japanese group. The astounding early 19th-century palace at Beit ed Dein, just outside Beirut, built in a mix of Arab and Italian baroque styles, likewise is relatively unvisited.

But the city must be viewed in context. When I comment to Georges Kahy, publisher of Touristica travel magazine, that it is a shame the local beach is full of litter, he laughs.

"During the war it was a rubbish dump nearly 50 feet [15 meters] high," he says. When the city was divided, residents on the west side had no access to the garbage treatment plant on the east, so piles of refuse grew and spilled over into the sea. Solidere has since cleaned up the area.

From her haute couture store in a small arcade in Verdun, housing many boutiques both Lebanese and foreign, Sylvia SURNAME? is delighted at Beirut's progress.

"Most of my customers are tourists from Arab countries. More and more of them are coming every year, which helps our economy," says the designer amid her bejeweled garments costing up to US$5,000. "I love Beirut and I'm proud to be Lebanese. We have to believe that it will be alright, that life can be good. War is over!"

Sylvia, like most Beirutis who lived through those dark days, prefers not to talk of the past and waxes lyrical about the country's assets.

"I would advise anyone just to come here and see for themselves - we have good weather, we have mountains and the sea."

Erik Vedsegaard, Danish-born general manager of the Four Points Sheraton, the newest of the luxury hotels in Beirut, is astounded at the city's development.

"The strangest thing about Lebanon is that it takes just a few months of peace and stability and people start investing again," Vedsegaard says.

"I don't know where this drive comes from. I think Europeans are much more conservative and unwilling to take risks. Maybe that's why Lebanon is so different from any other place."

A resident of the city for five years, he is aware of whatkeeps people away.

"I speak to my mother and she asks, `Are you safe?' That's the perception problem, but it is getting better all the time. Europeans who come here are really surprised to see how far Beirut has come and how safe it is."

I do find the city to be safe with no hint of aggression, despite an unnerving if incongruous abundance of armed soldiers and blockades on the streets.

Adds Vedsegaard: "I realized recently that in all the years I have lived here, I have never seen any drunkenness. You see the youngsters go out to bars and nightclubs, and they go out and enjoy every night."

Like most residents of Beirut, Vedsegaard acknowledges the enterprising nature of the Lebanese, especially the wealthy ones who left during the war and now want to return and invest in a glut of recently built hotels.

"When someone puts US$50 million or US$100 million into a hotel project, they have to be optimistic. People must believe in it. If we have peace within the country, and between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Lebanon will move forward."

It's easy to see the best of Lebanon because it is relatively small. It is possible in one hour by road from Beirut, for example, to visit the fabulous souks of Tripoli in the north and the rich expanse of cedar plantations in the Mt Lebanon range, now a protected area. The ancient ruins at Baalbakare just 85kilometers away. Several ski resorts provide the only winter sports facilities in the Middle East, with quality skiing possible until April. Come down from the slopes and it is still warm enough to have a dip in the Mediterranean.

A 20km drive north along the coast from Beirut is the ancient city of Byblos, its ancient ruins inhabited since Neolithic times. Here lies the answer to Lebanon's tourism wishes, says the Lebanese Peace Party's Roger Edde, a presidential candidate in next year's election.

"Don't mention Beirut - it is synonymous with civil war," Edde tells me sternly. We sit in his mansion, an elegant castle-like structure in the tiny town of Edde. Down the road is Edde Sands, a classy beach resort which he built two years ago to cater for visitors with money.

"Lebanon can re-emerge on the international travel scene as a country of peace and leisure, a country where people can get a real idea about what it is to be Western in an Eastern Mediterranean country," he says, settling into his chair and lighting a huge pipe. "I wanted to start something more cultural and less related to the war. Byblos has a 7,000 year-old history as well as a mix of Shi'ite, Sunni, Greek Orthodox and Armenian communities. There is a spirit of unity here and that is why we want to relaunch it as a tourist destination."

Edde also has his eyes on the exclusive Casino du Liban a few kilometers away. Once fully privatized, he wants to take the "old-fashioned European type of casino" and turn it into a resort- convention center and modern casino.

Back in Beirut I search for remnants of its old soul, ripped out when the city center was destroyed at the heights of its conflict. On the frontline of fire during the war, the boundary between east and west Beirut was the Hippodrome, a recreation and sports venue.

After many years of closure, the Sunday afternoon horseracing crowd is glad to return.

"I come here every week," 88-year old Issam tells me.

He studies the form and send his younger pal to queue and place another bet, for the minimum stake of 3,000 Lebanese pounds (about HK$15). It is easy to see that the standard was not high, of neither the race nor the track, but like the other local racing enthusiasts, he is "just happy to be back."

And it's easy to find the popular entertainment areas, like Monot St, an otherwise unassuming thoroughfare lined with bars and restaurants, or Gemmayzeh near the port, with its clubs that stay open till the small hours.

Then, on Sunday evenings the Corniche comes alive, not only with those visiting the famous Rouche Rocks just off the coast. Headscarfed old women bring plastic chairs and brew tea on tiny stoves; men and women of all ages puff on argiles (water pipe) and watch the world go by; teenagers practice rollerblading acrobatics and leap makeshift hurdles; and breakdancing buskers gather a crowd while their stereos blast out a beat.

There's no need to worry about bombs - just be careful how you cross the road.
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Old June 3rd, 2006, 09:42 PM   #18
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Oman-Lebanon business forum to begin today


By Our Special Correspondent

MUSCAT — A two-day Omani-Lebanese business forum will open here at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort today. His Highness Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, minister of heritage and culture, will preside over the forum. Sheikh Saad Al Dine Rafiq Hariri, president of Future Parliamentary bloc, Lebanese parliament, will be the guest of honour.

Beirut-based Confex International is organising the forum, in association with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The two-day (June 3-4) forum will be an ideal platform for the Omani and Lebanese businessmen to explore business opportunities in two countries. The forum will host a series of roundtables, including high- profile speakers and participants from Lebanon and Oman, to discuss and exchange views on mutual cooperation. It will help businessmen explore opportunities in both countries. More than 200 businessmen from the financial, investment, tourism, trade and investment will attend the forum
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Old June 3rd, 2006, 10:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripolis
on the website http://www.campbellgrayhotels.com/mainworks.htm
it seems that the beirut property will open spring 07. anybody has an idea where this will be located?
This is it, it's under construction right now.
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Last edited by Beiruti; May 16th, 2007 at 06:27 PM.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 10:09 PM   #20
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Intel takes education initiative to Lebanon


Intel Corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the Hariri Foundation to develop its worldwide Intel Teach to the Future program in Lebanon.

The three-year program, part of the Intel Education initiative, aims to train 10,000 in-service teachers to enable them to develop higher level thinking skills and enhanced learning in their students through the integration of technology into day-to-day lessons.
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