Author Archives: Executive Editors

Lebanon’s new government: A focused approach

Lebanon’s new government: A focused approach

Reading Time: 3 minutes If five men in a car had only moments to escape a tornado approaching in the rear view mirror, the last thing you would expect them to do would be argue over directions. Yet this is effectively what the Lebanese government spent much of the month doing. Faced with the realistic possibility of the country

Lebanese Cabinet Statement in full

Reading Time: 5 minutes Earlier this month, the new Lebanese government finally agreed upon a cabinet statement which it will seek to enact in the coming months. Nearly two weeks later, the statement has still not been officially translated into English and published on government websites. We believe in a global world this is necessary. For the record, therefore,

Public parks, private payment

Reading Time: < 1 minute The coming few months will witness the reopening of Sanayeh Garden, the first green space in Beirut to be renovated through a public-private scheme. In a city overgrown with concrete, more parks are a necessity. The reason for opening up to the private sector is partly budgetary; the Municipality of Beirut has, like most state

Facing poverty head on

Reading Time: 2 minutes Nearly a third of Lebanese are estimated to live below the poverty line. This phenomenon cuts across sectarian divisions: destitution knows no religion or nationality (see photo essay). Many of these are not poor due to war, sectarianism or displacement: they are poor as they have been neglected by their society. Successive governments have failed

Lebanese journalism on the rack

Reading Time: 3 minutes A belief in freedom of speech has led many good journalists to adopt as their maxim what French philosopher Voltaire once supposedly said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” In fact it is accepted today to be one of history’s many misattributions, but

Lebanon’s new government: Get to work, gents (and lady)

Reading Time: 3 minutes Having spent the best part of a year trying to form a government, when the new Prime Minister Tammam Salam visited President Michel Sleiman in his Baabda Palace to announce the new Cabinet, he may have been feeling more pressure than excitement. The challenges facing the country are greater than at any time since the

Entrepreneurship: Beware a bubble

Reading Time: 2 minutes Last August, after much speculation Banque du Liban – Lebanon’s central bank – released Circular 331. The $400 million plan aimed at encouraging the country’s start-up sector by guaranteeing 75 percent of commercial banks’ investments in fledgling companies. The long-term aim was to boost Lebanon’s ‘knowledge economy’. Many in the startup world greeted it with

Risky business

Reading Time: 2 minutes No matter what some might say, the Beirut Stock Exchange is economically insignificant. Few companies are listed, with real estate giant Solidere and a handful of banks taking up the largest share of the market, and there has not been a new listing since the turn of the century. This sad state of affairs is

Time for a government

Reading Time: 2 minutes For the past 10 months, Lebanon has been without a government. The caretaker cabinet has proved completely incapable of responding to the country’s two major ongoing challenges — the influx of 900,000 Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war and a striking downturn in security conditions. Since Christmas alone, Lebanon has seen four car bombs.

Need for transparency in $3 billion LAF grant

Reading Time: 2 minutes Saudi Arabia’s pledge to support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to the tune of $3 billion over the next five years should be cautiously welcomed. The army is one of the few genuinely cross-sectarian bodies in this divided country and enjoys widespread support. In 2013 a study by the Norwegian research company FAFO found that