Author Archives: Sami Halabi

Lebanon needs an IMF bail-out—minus the austerity

Lebanon needs an IMF bail-out—minus the austerity

Reading Time: 5 minutes The clouds have been forming above Lebanon’s financial sector for years, and now the storm has come with just one silver lining: most of the debt owed to creditors is held by Lebanese. Theoretically, this means that financial institutions and Lebanese bond holders are the ones who need to sit around a financial kitchen table

The need to reform electronic money transfer regulations

Reading Time: 3 minutes All over the world, every day, millions of financial transactions take place at the press of a button. The words—and now the verbs—PayPal, TranferWise, and Venmo, are to payments what WhatsApp and Facebook are to messaging. Modern electronic money transfer (EMT) services have lowered transaction costs for individuals, facilitated business growth through e-commerce, and made

The fear of an empty plate

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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

Reading Time: 3 minutes   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

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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