Is Policy Hindering the Banking Sector in Lebanon?

“Switzerland of the Middle East”, is a a title given mostly to Lebanon, at least for the good reputation which the country’s banks have always enjoyed. These banks have managed since the end of the First World War in attracting the capitals from the Gulf’s countries first, and from the rest of the regional countries second. What can be noticed is that the activity of the banking sector has recorded a relatively big growth rat , despite the weakness of the economic performance in general. The growth rate of the assets has risen on an annual basis reaching 1,01 % during the four years starting from 2001 till 2005.
Despite that, the tense political situation in prevailed in 2005 has had negative effects on the economy and the banking sector, and this has continued till December of 2005, as the assets has recorded a growth rate of 37% only, but observers expect that the Lebanese banks will take advantage today from the positive economic situations witnessed by the region currently, on condition that the political situations will settle, domestically or in the context of the conflict with Israel. The question which is being raised by them is about the space which politics will leave for the Lebanese banks in order to improve its competitiveness in general.

Syria Attracts $ 600 m Only as a Direct Foreign Investment

The annual report issued by the UN Conference for Trade and Development “Unctad” showed that the volume of the director investment in Syria last year did not exceed $600 m, with an increase of 20% compared to 2005. The report further stated that Syria’s success in attracting the foreign investments was relatively weak compared to the neighboring countries.

Palestine Calls Upon Unido to Finance Industrial Projects Estimated at $6 m

A Palestinian delegation of the public and private sector intends to call upon the UN organization for industrial development “Unido” to support a package of projects and industrial programs estimated at $6 m.
Al-Ayam Al-Falestenia newspaper quoted Jawad al Naji, the Deputy Minister of Economy as saying that these projects have to do with modernizing the industrial sector and developing as well as enhancing its production capabilities.

Raising the Share of the International Dubai Seaport Company for Sale by 23%

Dubai has risen the volume of the share it intends to sale at the International Dubai Seaport Company from 20-23%, saying that the strong demand will allow it to allocate about 4.96 billion dirhams in one of the biggest bids in the Middle East.

$20 bn, the Volume of Cooperation Between Iran and Venezuela

In a press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, the Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced that the two countries have signed many agreements. Chavez said that the relations with Iran are highly important in the different ethical, political, economic, social, and geo-political fields. It is worth mentioning that the value of the documents of cooperation between Iran and Venezuela has risen by 300% reaching $20 bn.

Libya Invests $123 bn in Infrastructure

The Libyan news agency Awj said that Libya intends to spend 150 billion dinar “$123.4 bn” on developing the infrastructure in the country throughout the coming five years. The news agency said that the plan intends to build 530.000 housing units in addition to building 200 new schools, as well as building the new international Tripoli airport with a total capacity of 20 million passengers annually.

Small Indexes

- The number of visitors to the US in the summer of this year has hit a new record reaching 45 million visitors with an increase of 5% compared to last year.
- The volume of the Micro loans has reached about $50 m since 1999 with a total of 120.000 loans, 80% of them were granted to woman, according to UNRWA.
- The Value of the Imports of Jordan of Natural Gas from Egypt in accordance with a mutual agreements has risen by 26% during the third quarter of this year compared to the same period of last year.

Companies’ Indexes

- Al Mustathmer Al Watani Company announce yesterday that its total revenues have reached 82.6 million dirhams during the first nine months of this fiscal year which ended on 30 September 2007.
- Al Khaleej Bank has donated 64.000 Kuwaiti dinars to the Hospital of al Mubarak al Kabir in Kuwait to help buy a complete digital system for Ultra Radiation (Ultra Sound) to be used by the medical team in the hospital.
- The Indian Abad Company for Real Estate Development intends to hold housing and hotel projects in the UAE with total investments estimated at 500 million Dirhams.

Conferences & Exhibitions

- Dubai International Capital Company, the arm of the world investment of the holding Dubai Company announce yesterday that it will host the conference of the Arab Asian Investment to be held on the third and the fourth of next month in Dubai International Financial Center with the participation of more than 100 figures representing the most important financial institutions.
- Bahrain is due to host between 8-10 of December 2007 the activities of the international annual 14 conference of Islamic Banks to be held at al Khaleej Hotel in al Manama with the participation of about 1000 banking figures representing more than 35 countries.

Indicators is a daily economic watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on Voltairenet.org in Arabic and English. Also worth a read is Tendencies, the daily Near East political watch newsletter, available in Arabic, English and French languages.