Author Archives: Thomas Schellen

Q&A: Saad Azhari

Q&A: Saad Azhari

Relying entirely on organic growth of their business, BLOM Bank carried the baton of leading the Lebanese banking sector in terms of assets for more than two decades. As the creation of the Audi-Saradar Group is exerting consolidation pressure at the top of the sector, EXECUTIVE wanted to know how BLOM Bank views recent developments

Enjoying a life plan

Toward the end of last month, insurance managers from the Middle East and North Africa crowded onto the website of Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Agency (SAMA) to download the final version of the kingdom’s new insurance law. Many an executive surrounded himself during the following days with the new Lebanese insurance draft law and the Saudi

Counting on insurers

Arab Re Sourcing of regional reinsurance is an issue of growing importance to primary insurance providers across the region, be they established companies or newcomers. For reinsurance company Arab Re, this translates directly into a substantial increase in perceived business opportunities. “I can confirm that our board has taken the decision to double our capital.

Insurance on high

Centering on Islamic ethics, the concept of takaful insurance reaches out to clients who value transparent policies and financial practices, which steer clear of investments which are morally less-than-pristine. As financial security scheme, the takaful approach by its very name implies mutual protection and solidarity among policyholders. While the term relates to the entire range

Promoting insurance

In the spring weeks leading up to the 2004 GAIF conference, Lebanese insurers engaged in a flurry of new product releases. Each of three fancy launch events presented results of collaboration between local insurers and partner firms, from a leading multinational insurer and an international finance firm, to well-known domestic players in banking and trade.

Bank of Beirut: Going steady

Following a very satisfactory 2003 for the country’s major banks, the outlook for the sector in 2004 is guarded but not downcast, said Salim Sfeir, chairman and general manager of Bank of Beirut. Each and every bank in the sector’s leading stratum could outdo their expectations on the results they realized in 2003, Sfeir told

Real success story?

Gada Sardouk is trotting out the government line. “Beirut’s downtown is the success story of the entire region. People are visiting in huge numbers,” said the director general of the tourism ministry. “Yes, it is sometimes crowded but the area has no problems. If there were anything to harm the tourist, it would be empty.”

Wither agriculture

Food plays only a minor role on the national balance sheet, where agriculture is said to contribute about 8% to GDP, and it certainly doesn’t figure with any prominence in the budget. With subsidizing sugar beets and tobacco, the only somewhat significant government funding support for agriculture goes to crops that in the opinion of

Lending a hand to farmers

Abi Habib: `Our loans are convenient, because they are cheap… and long term` In making agriculture more sustainable in recent years, the availability of financing options has seen some important improvements. The number of loans to the agro sector has mushroomed in the last two years, especially through loans granted under the Kafalat loan guarantee

Thinking Positive

Talk to local manufacturers and you won’t hear a lot of talk about demand cycles and product innovation, successful brand building and the occupation of new niches in international markets. Instead you are more likely to get an ear full about issues such as excessive location costs and energy prices, the overbearing bureaucracy, unpredictable and