29 January 2010

* Black Box found

BEIRUT: A US navy vessel located on Wednesday the flight recorders from an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed off the coast of Lebanon two days ago with 90 people aboard, a security official said.
"The US ship located the black boxes 1,300 metres underwater and 8 km west of Beirut airport," the security official said, adding that search teams now had to assess the best way to retrieve the recorders.
Flight ET409, a Boeing 737-800, was carrying mostly Lebanese and Ethiopian passengers and was heading to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The plane apparently broke up in the air before plunging in a ball of fire into the Mediterranean during a thunderstorm early on Monday.
The security official said it was still too early to say whether the USS Ramage, brought in to help with the search, had also located the plane's fuselage.


* Farayya these days :)

28 January 2010

* Gulf Gap in Davos Belies Booming Economies in Oil-Rich Saudi Arabia, Qatar

By Henry Meyer and Arif Sharif Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) — The program for this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos features no speakers from Qatar, Dubai or Abu Dhabi in any of the conference’s 230 events. Five spots are occupied by Saudis and four by Kuwaitis. “I think the absence of the Middle East is quite conspicuous,” said Ibrahim Dabdoub , chief executive officer of the National Bank of Kuwait, interviewed in the conference center in the Swiss village. “It’s a pity that Gulf involvement is so low.” Especially for anyone looking to make money.
Six weeks after Dubai almost defaulted on $4.1 billion in debt, the region as a whole is set to prosper. Oil prices, which account for 75 percent of the revenue of the six monarchies in the Gulf Cooperation Council , have more than doubled from their February 2009 low of $34 a barrel. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi are spending $600 billion by the end of 2013 to build roads, railways and new cities while expanding energy and manufacturing.
The GCC countries are forecast by HSBC Holdings Plc to post an average expansion of 4 percent or more in 2010, after no increase last year. That compares with projected growth of 2.7 percent in the U.S. and 1 percent in the 16-nation euro zone, according to the International Monetary Fund . Serious Opportunities “As a region I think we are on the cusp of some very very serious growth opportunities in the years ahead,” said Arif Naqvi , CEO of Dubai-based Abraaj Capital Ltd., the biggest private-equity company in the GCC, in an interview in Davos. “It is probably higher than in other parts of the world. There is liquidity and there is a desire.” The new spending may benefit Munich-based Siemens AG , Europe’s largest engineer, which said in November it is looking to win more contracts in Saudi Arabia to tap rising demand for power generation. Paris-based Total SA , Europe’s largest oil company, said Nov. 24 it is in talks with Qatar to build a petrochemical cracker, a fuel-processing plant.
Emad Mostaque , a Middle East equity-fund manager in London for Pictet Asset Management Ltd., which oversees more than $100 billion, plans to add to Saudi shares that currently represent a third of his portfolio. Saudi Arabia’s benchmark Tadawul All Share Index jumped 28 percent in 2009, the best-performing of the Gulf markets , followed by Oman. “Saudi Arabia is where we see the most potential,” Mostaque said in a phone interview. He said he recently bought more shares in Riyadh Bank, Riyadh-based Saudi food producer Almarai Co. and Riyadh-based Saudi Basic Industries Corp. , the world’s largest petrochemical producer. Pipes and Building He plans to acquire stock in Jeddah-based Saudi Cement, Riyadh-based pipe manufacturer Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. and Zamil Industrial Investment Co., a Dammam-based maker of building materials. The kingdom last year announced that it would spend $400 billion on projects including three new railway lines and six new industrial cities over five years. It is the largest stimulus package in the Group of 20 nations as a share of gross domestic product. This year, almost $70 billion will go to roads, railways, airports and other projects, a 16 percent increase over 2009.
Crude prices, which have rebounded to about $75 a barrel, are likely to boost Saudi oil revenue in 2010 to $151.7 billion from $116.7 billion in 2009, according to EFG-Hermes. The Saudi 2010 budget was based on an average oil price assumption of $46 a barrel, according to Riyadh-based Banque Saudi Fransi. New Airport Qatar, which has the world’s third-largest gas reserves, is spending more than $100 billion over three years on projects including a new financial center and an airport. Abu Dhabi, the largest sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates, is allocating $100 billion to such investments as a $40 billion project to build an island tourism and leisure destination. Abu Dhabi holds 8 percent of the world’s oil reserves. “Oil prices will be a very important driver of confidence in the region,” said Dubai-based Monica Malik , chief Middle East economist at EFG-Hermes, which forecasts an average price of $80 a barrel in 2010. The six Gulf Arab nations in the GCC supply about 20 percent of the world’s oil — two-thirds of that crude output in Saudi Arabia alone. Growth will be slower in the smaller Gulf nations of Oman and Bahrain, which have less oil wealth, and Kuwait, where political infighting is slowing spending programs, said Simon Williams , chief Middle East economist at HSBC. Less Risk In a sign of the economic disparity, investors see less than one-fifth the risk in Saudi Arabian bonds compared with Dubai’s, according to trading in credit-default swaps. The cost of protecting against Dubai government default stood at 473 basis points on Jan. 27, CMA Datavision prices show. Bond-default risk for Abu Dhabi was 138, for Qatar 97 and 83 for Saudi Arabia. The seven-member U.A.E. will grow by no more than 1 percent this year because of a continuing contraction in Dubai, the IMF forecast Jan. 26. Saudi Arabia will post growth of almost 4 percent, according to a Jan. 13 forecast by Banque Saudi Fransi. Qatar, which plans to raise its production of liquefied natural gas by 42 percent to 77 million tons by September, is expected to have GDP growth of 17 percent in 2010, according to a median forecast of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg in November to December 2009. The country is considering an investment in Petroleo Brasileiro SA , Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Qatari Energy Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said on Jan. 21. The next day, Brazilian Energy Minister Edison Lobao said Qatar may invest in a refinery joint venture with Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras. Credit Squeeze The Gulf region as a whole suffered from a credit squeeze last year provoked by the global financial crisis. That, along with the sharp fall in oil prices from a peak of $147.27 a barrel in July 2008, led to the slump in 2009. Dubai, where real-estate prices have plunged 50 percent since their 2008 peak has fared the worst as it struggles under at least $80 billion in debt. Dubai World, one of three main state-owned holding companies, avoided default in December only with an infusion from neighboring Abu Dhabi that allowed it to repay a $4.1 billion Islamic bond. Bank lending elsewhere in the Gulf was also upset by the default of two Saudi family conglomerates. Eighty lenders, including BNP Paribas SA and Citigroup Inc. , are owed at least $15.7 billion by the two groups. Bank credit in Saudi Arabia declined 6.6 percent in the 11 months through November, 2009, central bank data shows. This year, government spending will remain the key driver of growth in Saudi Arabia as well as in most other Gulf economies as banks remain reluctant to lend, said John Sfakianakis , chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi. In addition, Abu Dhabi has sovereign assets of about $426 billion, one of the world’s largest funds, according to RGE Monitor in New York. Saudi Arabia holds a fund of $358 billion, Qatar $75 billion and Kuwait has about $271 billion. To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Dubai at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net ; Arif Sharif in Davos at asharif2@bloomberg.net

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Gulf Gap in Davos Belies Booming Economies in Oil-Rich Saudi Arabia, Qatar

20 January 2010

* Faraya January 2010 - Global Warming?

* Lebanon's net public debt at $44bn at end-November 2009

According to Byblos Bank's Lebanon This Week, Lebanon's gross public debt reached $50.5bn at the end of November 2009, constituting an increase of 7.3% from end-2008 and a rise
of 7.7% from end-November 2008. Domestic debt increased by 14.1% to $29.3bn, while external debt increased by 0.03% annually to $21.1bn. Local currency debt accounted for 58.2% of gross public debt at end-November 2009 compared to 54.9% a year earlier, while foreign currency-denominated debt represented 41.8% of the total at the end of November relative to 45.1% a year earlier.

Market issued Eurobonds account for about 67% of external debt.

Commercial banks accounted for 60.4% of the local public debt at the end of November 2009 compared to 62% a year earlier. They were followed by the Central Bank with 23.4%, up from 22.5% at end-November 2008; while public agencies, financial institutions and the general public accounted for 16.2% of local debt relative to 15.5% a year earlier.

Eurobond holders, foreign private sector loans and special T-bills in foreign currencies accounted for 85.5% of the external debt, followed by multilateral institutions with 7.5%, foreign governments with 4.9% and Paris II loans with 2.1%. Net public debt, which excludes the public sector's deposits at the Central
Bank and at commercial banks from overall debt figures, increased annually by 6.9% to $44bn.


* Al-Madina Case Still On!

The Lebanese judiciary is still investigating the al-Madina Bank case.

According to well-informed sources, Administrative Reform Minister Mohammed Fneish, who held consultations with the president, prime minister and speaker about the formation of the mechanism with which the administrative appointments are to be chosen and which is to be discussed by the cabinet today, has put together a completed form that relies on taking opinions and holding deliberations within the committee designated to the task.
Ministers from all sides have been active over the last few hours preparing for today’s cabinet session, which a ministerial source said would be exceptional and would discuss various topics.
A source to Ad-Diyar said that he does not expect the appointment mechanism to be sanctioned today, since ideas have been crystallized and became clear, and there is no objection to sanctioning the final form.    
Judicial sources told Ad-Diyar that the al-Madina Bank investigation is ongoing concerning the case of funds being whitewashed. However, it does not concern the depositors’ funds, which the Central Bank cleared, nor does it concern the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.


16 January 2010

* Construction permits up 6% in first 11 months of 2009

According to Byblos Bank's Lebanon This Week, figures released by the Association of Engineers of Beirut & Tripoli show that construction permits reached 11.42 million square meters in the first 11 months of 2009, up 6% from 10.77 million square meters in the same period last year. Construction permits totaled 1,207 thousand square meters in November 2009, down 8.6% from 1,320 thousand square meters in November 2008.

In parallel, cement deliveries reached 4.19 million tons in the first 10 months of the year, an increase of 20.4% from 3.48 million tons in the same period of 2008. Cement deliveries increased by 43.7% year-on-year to 516,000 tons in October 2009.


* Bullshot drug in Lebanon

"Bullshot snuff powder is the first and only energy product in the Middle East that is SNUFFED……Yes, you don’t drink Bullshot, you sniff it!

Based on Guarana powder, Bullshot can give you instant sensation of energy boost from the first sniff, all you have to do is fill out Bullshot original sniffer with bullshot powder, twist the bullet and sniff the fun!

Bullshot's guarana powder carries the approval of the Lebanese ministry of health and is one of the best known stimulants originating from the Brazilian rainforest.
The seeds of guarana are known to be rich in xanthenes (caffeine) and have been widely used as a “tonic” in many South American countries.

"You can buy your bullshot online, all you have to do is send us an email mentioning your inquiry, exact address and your phone number, and we shall deliver it to your premises the same day. You can also find our product in the following authorized points of sale:

1. Batroun: Nakhleh Market
2. Jounieh:
   - Al Inaya supermarket
   - Faddoul Supermarket
   - All 24 hours drive through shops
3. Beirut and suburbs:
   - Medco station, Dora, Managed by Jean Abboud (300m ahead of Audi's showroom)
   - Medco Milan-Dora (before Almaza)
   - Coral station, Zalka, After Mike Sport
4. Jbeil:
   - Side walk pub (Facing LAU main gate)
5. Metn:
   - Mini Market "Al Rahi" (Main Road Bikfayya-Facing Police station)"


Bullshot's Guarana is composed of the following four elements:

1. Bullshot's original kit.

2. The sniffer:
Sniffing tool: easy to carry in your pocket. Made of iron and a mix of titanium it is as well tinted in order to keep the Guarana powder inside safe from water or humidity or any other alien substance. Twisting the cap at your convenience will allow you to get boosted at any time Just remember to keep it filled!

3. Bullshot's Container:
Your stock of Guarana will be always available since our friendly to use container is designed to easily fit in your pocket, car, and drawer. Just make sure that you always refill your sniffer and that you don’t leave the container opened for more than 1 hour. Do not mix any other ingredients with the powder and make sure you only sniff BullShot and nothing else.

4. Filling device

Mode of Use

Use the filling device to unscrew the cover and fill the sniffer with the Guarana powder, make sure to properly screw back the cover in order to avoid any spills. Twist the cover to the right side, and sniff your shot, do the same when turning it to the left side. Keep the Guarana powder stored at room temperature."

This is what is posted on the site of BullShot!!!!!

The site says that th eproduct has been licences by ministry of health in Lebanon.... but the ministry denied that! Yet it is being used by the youth of Lebanon!
The product has been banned right now.... let's hope it disappears from the market, as this is the beginning of a new kind of social degradation leading to worst types of corruption.... some are unfortunately taking advantage of that...pure drug economy!

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.