Author Archives: Sami Halabi

Child labor in agriculture on the rise in Lebanon

Child labor in agriculture on the rise in Lebanon

The sun is rising over the Anti-Lebanon mountain range that borders Syria. Kowsa Ibrahim, a 12 year old refugee from Aleppo, is already at work pruning grape vines. She will work for the next several hours for 6,000 Lebanese Lira ($4), although she will not get that amount; an overseer, known as a “shawish,” will

The fear of an empty plate

There is an old Lebanese saying for reassurance in troubled times. For years, comparatively well-off people have told others, especially children, that ‘ma fi hadan bimout min el jou’’ (no one dies of hunger) when they complain excessively. While that may be true for some, five years of a refugee crisis coupled with long-standing structural

Cough it up, Lebanon

Every year Lebanon loses the population of a small village, about 3,500 people, not to emigration but to needless death from smoking-related diseases. For all the furor around Lebanon’s current smoking ban, little is said about the simple policy instrument that has proven the most effective in reducing tobacco consumption and raising government revenue around

Book Review: The Lebanese Connection

By the third page of Jonathan Marshall’s new book, “The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic”, anyone who knows Lebanon can see why the book may be controversial. In one stroke of the pen, Marshall accuses modern Lebanon’s founding fathers Bechara el-Khoury and Riad el-Solh of profiting from the drug trade

A realistic goal for progress

  In 2005 an exiled former general of the Lebanese Army stepped off a plane in Beirut to meet the throngs of supporters coming to welcome him after 15 years abroad. Once amid his loyal followers on the tarmac and with the obligatory kisses complete, the general made his way to a podium where he

Lebanon: A history 600-2011

Since the civil war, many revisionist historians have debunked popular theories of Lebanon as the historical bedrock of ‘Phoenicianism’ or a haven for persecuted minorities. The works of these authors challenge the rhetoric of those attempting to abuse history for political ends, and act as a rational voice amid the cacophony that is our political

Endangered prospects

The Lebanese proverb probably most apt for doing a good business deal roughly translates as follows: Always give your bread to the baker, even if he eats half of it. That’s because bakers know what they are doing with bread; someone else will probably just burn it. So when the Lebanese cabinet finally formed the

Gassing up against Uncle Sam

Amidst the fog of war in Syria, the clamor of sanctions and the threat of conflict in Iran, some transnational business deals in the region have slipped quietly. That was certainly the case in July 2011 when the Western press largely ignored the announcement by Syria, Iran and Iraq that they were to build a

Smiling through our pain

An economy that can serve the interests of all our people requires confidence. The necessary conditions for that economic confidence are both security and straight talk from those who are entrusted to protect our nation’s growth. That is why it is so damaging that no one called out the president or the prime minister for

Lebanon’s latest strike misses the point

It is dubious whether any good will come of the strikes today by various public sector unions, called in response to the Lebanese cabinet’s intransigence and delay tactics in passing the new salary scale law. On the one hand, if the unions get what they are asking for, the government will be even more broke,

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