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French Version

Opportunities conference promotes local industry (Daily Star)

Event gathers 120 exhibitors and 10 workshops on ‘what lies ahead’

The first annual Business Opportunities Exhibitions and Workshops in Lebanon was launched Wednesday to promote the country’s industry and to highlight its importance to the future of the economy.

“We are here today to turn the spot light on investments paid by the private sector to Lebanon and to highlight the opportunities that still lie ahead,” said Ramzi al-Hafez, editor in -chief of Lebanon Opportunities magazine and coorganizer of the event.

Over two hundred businessmen and some 120 exhibitors attended the one-day event, which included 10 workshops, held at the Export Center of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists at the Port of Beirut.

Hafez explained that Lebanese companies have faced serious social problems caused by disparity between income and basic need, and the country’s worst fiscal and debt crisis in its recent history.

He added that “although our companies are mostly under-capitalized and many lack the tools that allow them to compete in a more global economy, the resilience of our companies and their entrepreneurial service to our private sector have led to the creation of thousands of new companies and projects over the past few years.”

According to the latest study by Lebanon Opportunities magazine, around 2,500 projects, such as trade, banking, hospitality, finance and information technology, have taken place since the beginning of 2000. The value of these projects ­ not including government investment ­ is estimated at over $10 billion.

Although some of the projects have failed, “the ratio of the ones succeeding are breathtaking,” said Hafez.

Fadi Abboud, president of the Association Lebanese Industrialists ­ partners in the event ­ concurred with Hafez, stating that “the numbers do the talking.”
Abboud stated that the figures of industrial exports have increased by around 25 percent each year.

But, Abboud explained, “a lot of hard work has gone into achieving this increase in rate.” “Lebanese industrialists have invested around $700 to $800 million in new factories and equipment,” Abboud said. “Through innovation and investment we can compete with countries we are exporting to,” explained Abboud, adding: “The future of the economy is in exports.”

According to Finance Minister Fouad Siniora, investments are extremely important to revitalize the country’s economy, and have so far played an important role in improving the situation of the economy.

Sheikh Khalaf Habtour, an Arab investor and founder of the Metropolitan Hotel, explained that there are many investment opportunities in Lebanon and this doesn’t only include the tourism and hospitality sector, but a variety of sectors present in the country.

Habtour invested around $100 million in finalizing the Metropolitan Hotel, and is now investing another $100 million on a second local project.

Beirut 29-06-2003
Tania Tavoukjian
The Daily Star

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