Author Archives: Peter Speetjens

Corruption: How bad was it?

Corruption: How bad was it?

Since the Syrian retreat last April and the euphoria of the Cedar Revolution a month earlier, more and more examples of how public money was squandered, stolen or simply squirreled away have come to light, strengthening the case for privatization and even leading to calls for a formal audit of the handling of public finances

What now for the Bekaa

Residents in the border town of Majdal Anjar broke a jar the moment the last Syrian soldier left Lebanese soil. It is a local ritual to signify that something has ended once and for all. But while the general atmosphere in the Bekaa is one of great relief and hope for a better future, it

Former Green Line becomes real estate hotspot

Until recently, the Damascus Road was one of the last reminders of the Lebanese Civil War and its buildings, pockmarked by bullet holes, a favorite subject for camera crazy tourists. But those days are gone now. Today, tens of millions of dollars are being invested in the area, turning the former Green Line into one

Opening the doors to patients – and controversy

Lebanon’s largest public hospital, the very modern $150 million, 544-bed Beirut Government University Hospital in Bir Hassan, has opened its doors and hopes to be self-sufficient within three years. However, its critics have called it a waste of money in a sector that already has a surplus of hospital beds and question its viability in

Sky’s the limit for real estate sector

Fuelled by the continued influx of Arab nationals and capital, Lebanon’s real estate sector continued to grow in 2004 by an estimated 20%. Solidere had an outstanding year, as the Beirut Central District experienced increased demand for property, while on the retail side, big is beautiful seemed to be the theme as ADMIC braced for

Architecture & Design: Spoils of war

Market in Brief Lebanon’s architecture and interior design sector is in today’s market, worth an estimated $40 to $45 million. It is an industry driven by fierce competition, where projects are scarce and registered architects – some 6,000 – in abundance. In fact, the value of construction in Lebanon is accounted for by only a

The ongoing love affair

“A gun is a man’s jewelry.” So says an old Arabic proverb. Traditionally, a father would buy his son a gun when he is born in the same way a girl would receive a pair of gold earrings. In Lebanon, this tradition is all but dead, but the Lebanese still love their guns. In fact,

Tourism’s dark side

A proud tradition Lebanon’s adult entertainment industry/sex trade is worth an estimated $140 million (although this figure could be much higher), and employs over 4,000 people. Lebanon has always worn a patina of sin, one that represents a not insignificant portion (7%) of the tourist industry, around even though the ministry might prefer to focus

Beirut’s sore thumb is 30

Thirty years ago, the Murr Tower was a metaphor for promise-filled Lebanon. The brothers’ dream was to build, through their construction company La Liberal, Beirut’s first mixed use development, symbolizing the capital’s position as the region’s leading business and banking hub. The 40-storey giant was to host 34 floors of some 300m2 offices, 2,500 m2

Hamra in waiting

SLOW MOVERS? Some shop owners say the project has taken far too long Despite experiencing a drop in sales revenues of up to 40%, Hamra retailers are confident that the on-going construction work and facelift will eventually help Hamra become a thriving retail area, serving Ras Beirut’s middle-market catchment. After nearly one year of road

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