E: Senator Dogmoch, your group has recently stepped up its local investments. How do you evaluate the investment climate in Lebanon?
YD: I believe every investor has to see the glass as half full. The Dogmoch Group of companies has a presence in all Arab countries, with activities in different sectors, be it industry, trade, Internet, transportation, shipping and forwarding, airplanes etc. As a mid-sized enterprise with a presence in several countries, we decided to establish the base of our undertakings in Lebanon.
E: Why motivated you to this decision?
YD: Lebanon offers many advantages in terms of taxation, through the flexibility of the banking system, the climate, or the high quality of human resources. You find more human capacities and resources in Lebanon than in other Arab countries. Investment in the Arab countries hinges on the security of capital. This security is provided in Lebanon to no lesser a degree than in other parts of the world. Certainly, Lebanon will be the first country to profit if there is progress in resolving the Middle East problem. These are some reasons why we have opted for Lebanon.
E: You recently acquired a major share in Bartercard Lebanon. Was that your first major investment here?
YD: No. Bartercard is one of over 30 companies in which we have invested in Lebanon. Where do you see the best current investment prospects in Lebanon, and what projects did you find rewarding?
YD: In tourism. This year is the best in a while, and the country still needs many projects in the industry. We are in the hotel business and also have recently established a company called Cruise Med, for the rental of boats. We established it three months ago and now have 11 yachts, measuring between six and 24 meters. This business was a success from the start. Some days all boats are rented.
E: When you started investing here, did you encounter difficulties?
YD: For any project you start in Lebanon, in tourism or industry, you receive support from the authorities. There are no stones thrown in your way. In tourism projects, one can request loans at a very low interest, subsidized by the central bank, and this will be approved.
E: Did you work with IDAL?
YD: We are involved in a project with IDAL in Tripoli involving the construction of a car park and reorganization of the Gamal Abdel Nasser Square in central Tripoli.
E: Overall, then, you would say that as investor you do not find it difficult here?
YD:Lebanon has ideal circumstances for the investor, better than in any European or Arab country. If you want something from the authorities here, it is processed quickly. Even as a German in Germany I have not experienced that. To acquire a construction permit, for instance, it takes a month here, and one year in Germany.
E: What is the size of the Dogmoch Group’s investment portfolio in Lebanon?
YD: I believe that it is a sizeable amount for this country. In comparison to the activities of our group, 50 percent of our investments are in Lebanon, and that is a lot.
E: Is there anything that you would wish for to be different for investors?
YD: If some German or European investors knew the conditions and environment here, they would not hesitate to invest in Arab countries, Lebanon among them. The perspectives here are better than anywhere else.
E: Do you have further plans for major projects in Lebanon?
YD: We want to launch passenger-only sea transportation between Tyre, Sidon, Byblos and Tripoli. It will combine regular transportation and sightseeing. Based on experiences with the boat rental project, I have discussed this program for coastal transport with the transport minister, Najib Mikati. This could take some pressure off the road network. I hope that we will implement it within the next two years.
E: Then it will be related to tourism?
YD: If we use hovercraft it would be a tourism project, but operate year round. There’s a small problem that can be overcome. The sea in these parts is not very calm. But with the latest hovercraft, transport can be quick and reduce disturbances. On a calm sea, it will be a very interesting affair.