Author Archives: Thomas Schellen

Enjoying a life plan

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

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

Looking for new markets

The export data for 2003 is in, and it’s up nicely. At $1.52 billion, Lebanese exports increased by a substantial 31.4% on 2002, which in itself was a good year. Sector leaders have pounded their fists ad nauseam that exporting is where it’s at for Lebanese industries and industrial exports in particular can pump new

Labor Market Limbo

Employment and unemployment are two words that politicians love to use. They understand that an economy is equal to consumption, which entails income, which in turn entails a salary and yes, a salary requires a job. Politicians are thus duty-bound to maximize employment and develop human resources, to achieve optimum productivity. The same cannot be

Shipping Forecast

Marked by an insider language and a particular way of life, modern shipping and transportation has long established its very own culture of connecting nations, cultures, and markets. It has a history of its own, which reaches farther back than that of most other economic activities. Today, the industry consists of a huge variety of

Tracking fast movers

Beirut Cargo Center “Freight forwarding is a profitable business in Beirut but there is room for much more,” says Joseph Harb, president of Beirut Cargo Center (BCC), “I always tell my team that we are only at 10% of what is in our reach.” One of no more than 15 forwarders with a strong presence