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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities February 2017

Lebanon Opportunities is a quarterly business magazine that covers: Finance, Real estate, Economy, and Local business. Lebanon Opportunities has tens of thousands of readers in Lebanon and across the globe. It is the prime local business magazine in Lebanon in terms of readership, advertising, and name-awareness. Lebanon Opportunities is written to a target of small business owners, entrepreneurs and middle management, as well as to Lebanese living abroad. It aims at bringing complex business issues in a simple manner understandable by readers who are not experts and whose English language is not the mother tongue.

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3 min
high winds open windows

The very busy first month of the year was smooth sailing domestically, much calmer regionally, and Trumptastic in America. As some parts of the world are returning to eras thought to be long dead and buried, the reaction most heard nowadays is that the world is no longer the same. The least expected is the spectacle that the United States has become, the ease with which Russians are manipulating the situation in Syria, and the over-the-table electoral deals being cut locally between former political rivals. AMERICA FIRST First…our country came up with that slogan first (Lubnan Awalan)! Not a minute wasted since his inauguration, The Donald – accused by some of his country’s media to have lied about everything – is delivering true on his promises. He told you so, but some…

2 min
bits & bytes

SOUND BYTES No additional taxes, but additional tax collection President Michel Aoun This summer you will see more Saudis than Lebanese on the streets of Beirut King Salman bin Abdel Aziz of Saudi Arabia I confess to having spent beyond the budget to provide medicines not covered by NSSF Wael Abu Faour, former Health Minister I have personally paid a bribe to facilitate the registration of one of my cars Nouhad Machnouk, Minister of Interior The oil decrees were the first fruit of the cooperation between the President and the Prime Minister Raed Khoury, Minister of Economy & Trade We have the most advanced governance system in the world in the oil sector Cesar Abi Khalil, Minister of Energy and Water Better preserve national wealth, with no drilling or exploration or any of these rigged decrees Walid Jumblatt, MP How could a 400-page report be…

7 min
in good company

CASINO DU LIBAN TO TAP ONLINE GAMBLING AND GAMING Casino du Liban, a gaming and entertainment establishment, aims to launch an online gaming platform in partnership with an international company. It launched bidding which ended January 19. The terms of reference stated that the winning bidder “should be already generating their own revenues of not less than $650 million, of which 75 percent should be from gaming and gambling activities.” It also stated that the bidder “should be committed to investing a minimum of $15 million.” No laws exist yet in the country to regulate online gambling. Casino du Liban has exclusive rights for gambling. There are more than 700 gaming and entertainment centers operating illegally. Casino du Liban filed a lawsuit at the State Shura Council against the State to…

4 min
money & banking

HOUSING BANK LOWERS ITS RATES Banque de l’Habitat, a housing loans specialist, has announced it has lowered its interest rates from five to three percent. Beneficiaries include loan applications that were accepted starting in January 2017. Joseph Sassine, Chairman of the bank, said: “The objective is to provide low-to-middle income expats with better access to housing financing.” Sassine said that because of the low-interest facilities provided by the Central Bank (BDL), the bank’s profit margins have risen, even if interest rates are lowered. The decision follows BDL’s policy to boost demand and stimulate the real estate sector. The move helps Banque de l’Habitat circulate its accumulated assets in lira. Banque de l’Habitat has made LL160 billion ($106 million) worth of loans in 2016, almost the same level as the previous year.…

7 min
official business

$2.8 BILLION NEEDED FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) is preparing to launch the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan 2017-2020. The Task Force on Support to Host Communities gathers more than 30 partners including the UN, NGOs and governmental organizations. It is co-chaired by UNDP and UNHCR, together with the Prime Minister’s Office and MoSA. The plan has assessed that needed requirements in 2017 alone will cost $2.8 billion. LCRP 2017-2020 has yet to be announced. It will be launched along with a financial tracking system separate from that of the UN. The plan is divided into ten sectors: Basic assistance, food security, education, shelter, protection, livelihoods, social stability, water, energy, and health. The task force plans to raise the basic survival needs of refugees and strengthen social safety nets.…

7 min
matters of fact

RESERVES REPRESENT 90 PERCENT OF LIRA MONEY SUPPLY The Central Bank (BDL) gross reserves in foreign currencies reached $40.71 billion at the end of last year, an increase of around ten percent from 2015. Bank expert Joe Sarrouh said: “The main reason is the financial engineering adopted by BDL, and its effect on foreign deposits.” Sarrouh said: “Higher reserves ensure more confidence in the banking sector and more stability for the lira.” Gold reserves also increased nine percent at the end of 2016. Total reserves (gold and foreign currencies), which reached $51.4 billion, represents more than 90 percent of the entire money supply in lira. This is also equivalent to 69 percent of the overall gross public debt, 80 percent of the net public debt, and over 140 months of debt…