With the triumphant success of ABC Ashrafieh (Beirut), international consultancy JHP has reshaped ABC’s former flagship store in Dbayeh, east of Beirut, to bring Lebanese shoppers over 32,000 square meters of retail space, carrying a vibrant mix of leading brands over five floors. Located on the coastal highway leading in and out of Beirut, ABC Dbayeh attracts over 2 million visitors every year and is expected to attract even more with this latest expansion initiative, making it the largest department store in the Middle East.
Staying with Lebanese retail, a GS spokesperson announced last month that the popular clothing company has decided to launch a string of shops across the region, starting with the Kingdom of Jordan. This exciting move is in part a response to the growing regional demand for the GS brand, demand it is hoped will transform the Lebanese company into a regional retail chain. The grand opening of the 700 square meters landmark store located on the first floor of Amman’s Al Baraka Mall is set for February 2008.
In Dubai, Credit Suisse announced that it has appointed Michael Fouad Chahine as global head of Islamic banking distribution and that as part of its ongoing commitment to the growing Islamic investment and financing market, Credit Suisse will expanding its platform to distribute Shari’a compliant solutions to this important growth market. Michael Chahine will be based in Dubai and in his new role will coordinate the existing Islamic banking competencies across Credit Suisse’s investment banking, private banking and asset management businesses to build a distribution center in Dubai, one that is close to the market, clients and sources of new investment and financing opportunities.
Launch of Levant Express
Shipping giant CMA CGM Group was pleased to announce the launch of Levant Express, a new weekly service linking Asia, the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Operated independently from Phoenician Express, the service offers a second direct weekly connection without transshipment between China and Lebanon and allows a direct coverage of Thailand, Greece and Turkey. Levant Express will deploy seven 2,500 TEU ships, the first of which, CMA CGM BEIRUT, arrived in Beirut last month. This rotating service will cover the ports of Chiwan, Laem Chabang, Port Kelang, Suez, Damietta, Piraeus, Mersin, Lattakia, Beirut, and Damietta. These new stops will enable CMA CGM Group to serve directly, from China, the Levant and the ports of the Aegean Sea, and through transshipment through the Port Kelang hub, India, Pakistan and the Arab Gulf.
Arab racing driver Basil Shaaban, who is bidding to become the first Arab to compete in Formula One, is taking part in a nationwide environmental drive to gather old and damaged mobile phones for recycling to accelerate the growth of all-round environmental awareness in the UAE.
Proving its commitment to a new Iraq, Byblos Bank s.a.l., has recently announced the opening of its branch in Arbil, in northern Iraq. As a branch of Byblos Bank, the Arbil branch activities will cover commercial and correspondent banking services including payments, letters of credit, letters of guarantee, and documentary collections.
Danube Building Materials FZCO, a leading player in the construction, interiors, and shop fitting industry, has announced its expansion into Ras al-Khaimah with an investment of AED 30 million for a state-of-the-art facility. The move is aimed at catering to a massive demand for building and construction materials, as the emirate’s construction industry witnesses an unprecedented boom with multi-billion development projects being undertaken and scheduled for implementation.
Under the patronage of His Excellency Nasser Judeh, the official spokesman for the government, the International Advertising Association — Jordan Chapter (IAA Jordan) is organizing its 3rd annual Advertising and Marketing Communications conference under the theme “Box Basics,” whereby conference delegates will revisit the basics while highlighting creative and strategic excellence. The conference, which will be held on November 6–7 at the Grand Hyatt Amman Hotel, will host international speakers, as well as media representatives from leading agencies around the world. “IAA Jordan has launched its annual conference to share progress being made in the industry around the world and see how we can develop the local industry by learning from their successes,” said Mustapha Tabba, IAA Jordan’s president.
Arope Insurance launches new investment and protection plans
Lebanese Arope Insurance recently launched its new investment and protection plan during a conference at its headquarters in Beirut. Invitees from different Lebanese brokerage firms and insurance specialists attended the event. The new product is the newest addition to Arope’s family of products: Arope Open Life (AOL), a series of financial planning products designed to assist in creating and preserving wealth of individuals over a long period of time. It lends its name to a multitude of built-in flexibilities to assist in the design of a “fitting” long term financial plan providing both, life protection and selective prime investment opportunities. The product addresses several financial planning concerns and saving options including retirement and education.
Staying in Lebanon, Banque Libano-Française (BLF) has modernized its Akkawi branch, in line with both the company’s new architectural concept and an ambitious growth strategy on local and international levels. The bank’s new logo and unified architectural design reflect its visual identity and strengthened the harmony and the consistency of its various communications. BLF has a local network of 32 branches providing its corporate, SME and retail customers with a wide range of services and products. The bank is soon expected to open branches in Damascus, Syria.
Last Month, Rusiya al-Yawm, the first Russian TV channel in Arabic and a new window to modern Russia for the Arab world, celebrated 100 days on air. Speaking to journalists in Cairo, Sergey Frolov, director general of parent company ANO TV-Novosti, said the 20-hour news and current affairs satellite channel will address Russian, international and Middle East news events with a perspective that is sensitive to the region’s culture.
Finally, H.E. Sheikha Lubna al-Qassimi, the UAE Minister of Economy, is one of the five women in the Middle East considered by the US-based business magazine Forbes to be among the world’s 100 most powerful women. The Forbes article credited Sheikha Lubna with creating more transparency and corporate governance in the UAE, and recognized her effective negotiation skills and intensive trade relations program that sees her travel to four countries each month to promote the UAE.