05 November 2009

* Lebanon real estate projected to rise 10 to 15% per year until 2013

Real estate values in Lebanon have increased by 9% in the first eight months of this year and are projected to rise by 10 to 15% each year until 2013.

Wealthy Lebanese expatriates and Arab property investors fed up with the slump in places like Dubai, are among the heaviest investors in the country, it is claimed.

The value of property transactions reached more than $4.3 billion in 2008 and this year is expected to be even higher.

‘We expect this growth to continue,’ said Bilal Abdallah Alayeli , the head of the Orders of Engineers in Lebanon.

According to real estate brokers most of the apartments that are sold in Beirut and Mount Lebanon are small to medium in size and the property boom in Lebanon is only natural because the county’s size is very small compared to the population.

One reason that demand for apartments is likely to continue rising is that the Central Bank has given incentives to commercial banks to increase house loans at very competitive rates. Banks are offering 20 to 30 year housing loans at interest rates 5.9% and under.

The latest official figures from the Directorate of Real Estate back up the trend. They show that there were 7,740 operations during August, up by 3.9% compared with July, their highest value in 2009 so far.

But the property market in Lebanon has been affected by the global downturn as well.

The August figures are still 2.3% lower than they were in August 2008 when the real estate boom was at its peak.

The news is encouraging to developers who are increasingly looking to Lebanon as a prime market in the gulf region. Venus Real Estate Development which has just launched its Venus Towers project said it attracted $100 million in off-plan sales in just 48 hours with about 25% of investors coming from the Gulf states.

Stimulated by attractive off-plan prices, significantly lower than those set for the construction period, the intense demand was unprecedented in Lebanon’s real estate sector.

‘We are delighted to see such enthusiastic demand from investors and future residents at Venus Towers, resulting in an exceptional volume of sales from the very first day.

It shows the high level of confidence in the future of Beirut and Lebanon.

This response consolidates our belief in the strength and stability of the real estate sector in Lebanon,’ said Venus general manager Mohamad Qassem.



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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.