Author Archives: Yasser Akkaoui

It stinks

It stinks

Driving home to Verdun after dinner in Badaro in late July, I thought I’d somehow slipped back in time to the 1980s. I looked down at my steering wheel. I was not in a DeLorean, so it wasn’t time travel. But it sure felt like a war zone. The streetlights were out, but the roads

Schizophrenic policymaking

When the economy slows, unemployment rises and consumption slumps, smart policymakers blow the dust off their Keynesian economics books and try to figure out which amount of government expenditure coupled with tax cuts would make optimal capital available to stimulate a prosperous cycle. Meanwhile central bankers decrease interest rates to make sure that this same

A hellish limbo, a darker future

There’s nothing like entrepreneurial energy — if it’s there, you feel it as soon as you walk in the room. That’s what I felt when I recently addressed the Start Up Lebanon conference in New York. The room was buzzing with creative talent — our talent — ready to storm the American startup scene. Why were

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

Our national malady

We need our heads checked. Honestly, I think we Lebanese are suffering from what can only be described as Stockholm Syndrome. Why is it that people are suddenly so in love with our ministers? What exactly is Wael Abou Faour doing? “He’s making sure our food is safe to eat and pushing through healthcare reforms,”

Ladies first

Lebanon still has people, right? While this may sound like a dumb question, it was the only thing running through my mind after a 90 minute meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on February 23. We were talking about Lebanon’s economic opportunities, but the speaker had a singular focus: natural resources. He talked about oil.

Riddle me this

For an entire month, our investigative reporters tried to answer a painfully simple question: is Lebanon using its fiber optic backbone for data traffic? The result — we still don’t know. It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma! Even the minister might not know. Instead, there are people hiding something, and I

Resigned to failure

The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon is in a unique position. It has autonomy to make many decisions on its own and is more or less immune from having its work disrupted by a political class that cannot make decisions. IDAL does not sit for years with its hands tied, awaiting a government decree to

The unsuspected juggernaut

There’s a parallel space we Lebanese have learned to operate in — a place where the crooks in power have no influence. In that space, we’ve flourished in 2014. Our banks are strong, our entrepreneurs are maturing, our design space is expanding and our industrialists are investing in mechatronics, putting the country on a path

We’re 20 years too late

In the mid 90s, tech startups were new and sexy. Bill Clinton was in the White House, and Monica too. Marrouche restaurant was still serving. All while American entrepreneurship was changing the world, generating trillions of dollars of value, pleasing clients and investors. The bubble that formed out of the frenzy burst in 2000. It