20 January 2010

* 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.




(iloubnan)

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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.