11 March 2009

* Lack of leadership capability major challenge for Gulf Region

DUBAI - Despite the current global economic crisis the Gulf region still has opportunities for investment, but the major challenge is shortage of leadership capability, said experts.
The region needs good school of management and complete overhaul of education system as local boys can do better trade and more safely, said Sami Baroum, Managing Director of Saudi-based Savola Group.

"We are providing training to 10,000 Saudi men in retail sector to bridge leadership gap," informed Baroum during a panel discussion at Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Dubai on Wednesday.

The event was organised by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the world's first collegiate business school.

The timing of the conference coincides with a number of economic trends such as regional governments trying to diversify their oil-based economies while instituting political, social and economic reforms, including privatisation and liberalisation. Even in the current climate, the regional GDP is projected to grow four to five per cent, and the Gulf is today a powerful economic bloc with a combined GDP of over $1 trillion.

Saudi Arabia done right things by launching infrastructure projects engaging private sector in development activities providing the way to other governments in the region to follow, said Tarek Sultan, Chairman and Managing Director of Kuwait-based Agility Logistics.

"We are in very small country and when we started business it was protected market. We invested in market research for building capacity," Sultan said.

"Being from small country we look out to grow to large market," he added.
Kuwait-based Alshaya Company's Executive Chairman Mohammed Abdul Aziz Alshaya said that businesses need contingent plans to meet future challenges and it is good time to take a breadth. Because of uncertainty no body knows what will happen in a few weeks or month so it is better to concentrate on reducing cost, Alshaya added.

He said, "I believe values of business relations based on trust and transparency. Key for core value is quality of people," Alshaya added.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-based Future Pipe Industries Rami Makhzoumi said: "We need to unite in present crisis time for economic dialogue and concentrate on regional issues." 

"We have to act how to cater for the sake of prosperity and create economic opportunities," concluded Makhzoumi.


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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.