Why Lebanon needs more Arab investment
Sixty percent of bank deposits in Lebanon come from Lebanese workers in the Gulf, but the steep decline in travel and tourism to the country has left the Lebanese economy in a dire situation (Ramzi Haidar/AFP)
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The absence of Arab tourists and investors is weighing heavily on the Lebanese economy, said Mohammad Choukeir, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Beirut. “We cannot deny the fact that the flow of investments from Gulf countries, and mainly from Saudi Arabia, is very essential to the Lebanese economy,” he said during a meeting held with the Association of Economic Media Representatives Sunday.
Choukeir said Saudis constituted the cornerstone of the Lebanese economy, especially when it came to the tourism and industry sectors.
“The Saudi market is a large recipient of Lebanese industrial products,” he said.
He added that the lack of people from the Gulf visiting Lebanon was impacting the Lebanese economy, including the flow of funds from Lebanese working in the Gulf.
“Over 60 percent of these deposits come from Lebanese working in the region and this is a big loss,” he said.
Choukeir called upon the government to meet in order to solve urgent economic issues. “We are not asking the government to meet [in order to] approve new projects but only to take the necessary measures to save Lebanon from the current critical economic situation,” Choukeir said.
During the meeting, Choukeir also said he had received many complaints from Lebanese industrialists suffering from Syrian competition.
“I am not against foreign investment but all I am asking for is fair competition by foreign factories and for these businesses to obtain permits before entering the Lebanese market,” he said.
He also highlighted the importance of holding the Lebanon Week exhibition in Jeddah, saying the kingdom will witness a great boom in its economy in the coming years due to the huge projects currently under development.
“We have decided to go to the Saudis since they are worried about coming to Lebanon but the political situation cannot separate us,” he said, adding that both the Lebanese and Saudi governments had granted Lebanon the permits to hold the exhibition.
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