The electricity sector faces problems in numerous areas |Greg Demarque|

Uncrossing wires

Lebanon’s electricity sector faces severe difficulties on multiple levels, making it an unsustainable burden on the economy in general and the state budget in particular. Problems extend across all stages of the business process, from production to distribution, even billing and collection, despite the latter having been franchised out to private companies. Promising proposals — including

Greg Demarque | Executive

2014: Deep analysis

Any analysis of Lebanese banking performance in terms of activity has to be read in conjunction with the operating environment in the region and the recent expansion of Lebanese banks in regional markets. Real GDP growth, as estimated by the IMF, stood at 2.4 percent for the MENA region in 2014, while Lebanon registered 2.0

Greg Demarque | Executive

The Hamra model

The honking car horns, the heavy traffic, the sidewalks bustling with pedestrians, the wide variety of tightly packed shops and eateries, the mix of accents and languages which can be heard around you … No, this is not some dynamic foreign metropolis. It is Beirut’s Hamra, and many other areas in Lebanon have a thing

Hamra Street's bustling shopping district hosts over 800 retailers |Greg Demarque|

Shopping in Hamra

“Hamra Street is the closest street to what the Burj area (what is now referred to as downtown Beirut) was back in the 1950s, meaning it is working class to a certain extent, has a bit of everything and is a place where people of all income levels mix together,” says Saadi Hamady, owner of

The influx of refugees has boosted Lebanon's population to an estimated 5.9 million |Greg Demarque|

No money mo’ problems

Less than 50 percent of the funding needed to help Syrian refugees in 2015 was pledged at the third Kuwait donor conference in late March. The concern is that the dismal response to the pledge drive will further erode the basic life services refugees receive, while need continues to increase as humanitarian aid dwindles. Lebanon,

Robert Scoble | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Better together

The world is slowly waking up. A new industry is here: fintech. While banks have traditionally been the guardians of financial transactions, in the last decade and a half, nontraditional players have begun to pose a threat to their business, putting pressure on banks to evolve. From Paypal and Google Wallet to Facebook’s recent announcement

Greg Demarque | Executive

Holy waters

The Beirut Port is thriving, the Port Authority’s director Hassan Kraytem, tells Executive from his panoramic office overlooking the shipyard. Its success — the port transferred nearly $55 million of its profits to the treasury in 2014 according to data from the Finance Ministry — is largely due to its growth into a transshipment hub

Impossible without finance (Caleb Roenigk | Flickr | CC BY 2.0)

Wanted: risk takers

Our financial system needs to wake up. Once the dynamic driver of our nation’s economy, it’s long slumbered at the wheel, abandoning industry and entrepreneurial activity in favor of cozy deals on government debt. The result? Stagnant industry, few exports, a huge current account deficit and a morbidly high brain drain as our young people

Giant iPad or tiny human?

The brave new world of banking

Banking is on the move. Today, the sector has turned into something that couldn’t have been pictured some 20 to 30 years ago. New regulatory frameworks such as Basel III have placed more pressure on banks to regulate and mitigate risks. Their internal structures have been reshuffled by creating whole new teams and compliance departments,

It’s not all about the Benjamins, Lebanese banking must embrace ‘banking for change’ (khrawlings | Flickr | CC BY 2.0)

Resilient or resistant?

Change is a universal constant. For philosophical fineries adorning the ‘change is eternal’ concept and for musings on the durability of change, see classical works, beginning with the fragments that remain of writings by eastern Mediterranean thinker Heraclitus. In the real life experience of pressure for change, the global banking industry has been flooded with

Banking-new-generation

The banking turnover

What BankMed is to the Hariris, BLOM Bank to the Azharis, BLC and SGBL to the different lines of Sehnaouis, Bank Audi to the Audis and Creditbank to the Khalifes is perhaps not as clear as a bell when it comes to determining ownership percentages to the decimal. The shareholdings become particularly blurred when banks are

Traffic-law

Finally, teeth

Navigating Lebanon’s streets during the height of rush hour traffic is certainly simpler than cutting through uncharted jungle territory, yet the dangers are just as great. Drivers not observing road safety rules, because the police look the other way, have turned the roads of this country into backwater territory where anything goes. It is chaos,

Greg Demarque | Executive

On a charm offensive

The ‘Open Sesame’ for unlocking what made BankMed, one of Lebanon’s top five banks by both assets and deposits, move into Dubai this spring is ‘opportunity.’ This is no coincidence. This term and the art of seeking out opportunities were the key words by which Mohamed Ali Beyhum, BankMed’s executive general manager, describes the bank’s

Greg Demarque | Executive

Central anchor

In the staid world of central bankers, changes are often slow and measured. That is not the case in 2015. In the first four months of the year, the euro slid 10 percent against the dollar. In a single day in January, the euro fell 30 percent against the Swiss franc after Swiss authorities ended

Joseph Kaï | Executive

Profits ‘Я’ Us

The alpha bankers had a good year. Profits for 2014 showed surprising strength by growing 9.13 percent year on year to LBP 2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) for the 14 banks with deposits of over $2 billion each. Individual profit champions were BLOM Bank, at $29 billion the sector’s number two by assets, with $365 million,

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