Author Archives: Thomas Schellen

Talking in public

The ministry of telecommunications and its network-operating subsidiary, Ogero, have installed the first wave of public payphones in Lebanon, with apparent success. The rollout began in late 2003 with payphones at Beirut airport and in the capital. According to ministry figures, installation shall continue until 4,000 public phones are available nationwide. The total project cost

Regional perspective

ARAB COUNTRIES: Insurance Density and Insurance Penetration (SOURCE: Muhanna Foundation) This could be a very opportune time to take a good long look at the Middle Eastern insurance industry, where far-reaching changes are expected region-wide. On the static side of how things are, stand the numbers on territory, population and economic performance, in relation to

Urban planning nightmares

Lebanese experts on urban planning and zoning contend that this communal discipline of real estate management exists as nothing more than a quasi-reality here. Sights from nearly every nook and cranny of the country corroborate the judgment. From north to south, communities overflow with building structures that defy common sense, communal planning and esthetics.

Hi, and bye

In July and August, a new resolutely apolitical lifestyle magazine called Hi hit the Lebanese newsstands. Available only in Arabic, the magazine featured stories on singers, student life, online matchmaking and other matters that the publishers hoped would appeal to youth in the Middle East. What made this product noteworthy was not so much its

Shopping as easy as ABC

Two major retail clusters are evolving in metropolitan Beirut just in time for the shopping season. Spinneys last month inaugurated its first hypermarket in Jnah, while the ABC Mall in Achrafieh is being readied for its scheduled grand opening with top political figures on November 29, and will start to admit shoppers early this month.

Banking on transparency

Lebanon’s ranking in the 2003 Corruption Perception Index of international watchdog organization, Transparency International (TI) was poor. Receiving a rating of 3.0 on a scale ranging from 0 (totally rotten) to 10 (impeccably clean), Lebanon ranked 78th for perceived levels of corruption in 133 countries. However, it did rank significantly higher than the dirty dozen

Driving costs

Driving your car in Lebanon has never been so expensive. Neither has the government swallowed a more substantive share of the transportation budget from private households. Since the introduction of value-added tax in February 2002, the government’s revenue participation has reached and exceeded 50% on the amount a consumer spends on the purchase of a

Long road ahead

We are living in a brave new auto world. Still fairly early into the automobile’s second century, fuel economy and safety features of modern cars have reached levels that make automotive technology appear close to the point of quasi-perfection, where further improvements, short of reinventing the wheel, seem hardly worth the additional effort. A look

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