Author Archives: Sami Halabi

United by farce

United by farce

Reading Time: 3 minutes Optimists have lauded the sight of Lebanon’s politicians playing a game of football together, under the banner “we are one,” as a sign of good faith to mark the 35th anniversary of the Civil War.  But for those of us less buoyant in nature, the sight was a slap in the face. We would rather

Burning a hole

Reading Time: 9 minutes The Lebanese government has developed a habitual pattern of behavior in regards to progressive policy: the idea is lit with good intentions, smoked by vested interests and political squabbling, then forgotten like ash flicked away in the wind. When not tossed aside entirely, major policy initiatives are often simply relegated to an indefinite sentence in

Running out of steam

Reading Time: 8 minutes Of the five pillars of Islam, making the pilgrimage to Mecca was perhaps the most testing for those who lived in the time before planes and cars. Each bodily able Muslim who sought to enter heaven would trek through the sands of the Arabian Peninsula by camel caravan, braving the scorching summer sun or the

A momentous task

Reading Time: 9 minutes Raya Hassan has been Lebanon’s Minister of Finance since the government was sworn in, in November 2009. Before becoming a minister, she worked in the office of the prime minister on both Paris II and Paris III donor conferences, and served as an advisor to the minister of economics and trade with the United Nations

Pandora’s Budget

Reading Time: 10 minutes Among the more developed countries of the world it is customary to hold the nation’s constitution as sacrosanct, with governments that violate it swiftly shown the door by way of the ballot. The Lebanese constitution, on the other hand, is more a set of rough guidelines that successive governments have invoked when it suited their

Star-crossed lovers

Reading Time: 6 minutes When you have been in a relationship with someone for centuries, breaking up is hard to do. Sure, you may bicker over seemingly trivial problems in your marriage, but more often than not, your history with that special someone has you running back into their arms. Take Dubai and Iran. The two were engaged in


Reading Time: 3 minutes "If you don’t have it you are losing the game,” said  Gareth Locksley, author of a new study by the World Bank, which found that if broadband penetration had risen by just 10 percent in 2008, Lebanon’s economy would have grown by an additional 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent, with similar growth for every 10

Money makers

Reading Time: 3 minutes Many of the headlines splashed around the economic pages since September 2008’s global financial earthquake have inspired little confidence in Middle Eastern equities. The latest aftershock, involving Dubai World’s liabilities, has put off any return to the boom days of the last decade for a while to come. If you still have any money left

Recovery’s lazy V

Reading Time: 3 minutes   The recession is over,” says Bill O’Neil, portfolio strategist at Merrill Lynch’s Chief Investment Office in London. That is the sentiment one gets when reading Merrill Lynch’s “Year Ahead 2010” report, authored by O’Neil. Speaking to Executive in Beirut as part of a whirlwind tour across the Middle East and North Africa region, O’Neil

Our daily bread

Reading Time: 8 minutes   Judging an economy solely by the numbers rarely reflects the situation on the ground, especially in Lebanon. In 2009, the country experienced an economic rollercoaster with gross domestic product growth estimates ranging from a pessimistic low of 2.4 percent at the beginning of the year — due to the perceived effects of the international