Black Friday reveals Lebanese concern about political crisis

The markets in Beirut are not showing unusual trading signals even though the Beirut Traders Association has made Black Friday last for three days. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2018

Black Friday reveals Lebanese concern about political crisis

  • Our purchasing power is affected by crises, says Lebanese woman
  • The political crisis has created economic stagnation, says economist

BEIRUT: “Every day is Black Friday in Lebanon.” The term Black Friday in the Lebanese vocabulary has a different meaning when it comes to purchasing power.

Ghada Buqshan, a Lebanese woman, told Arab News that she was among the first to go shopping on Black Friday in order to buy clothes at reduced prices for her children.

She said: “I was shocked to see that the shops have manipulated the concept of Black Friday and reduced the prices of selected products only, while keeping the rest of their stock at normal prices.”

“When I go shopping on this particular day, it is because my purchasing power has declined due to a decline in my husband’s work, so I try to save money, but the joy of shopping is always there.”

The markets in Beirut are not showing unusual trading signals even though the Beirut Traders Association has made Black Friday last for three days in an attempt to attract the largest number of shoppers.

Ahmed, the owner of one of the best women’s clothing stores in Beirut, said: “There are many reasons for the decline in sales. Whenever the political situation in Lebanon worsens, the markets freeze.”

“In addition to that,” he continued, “Black Friday coincides with the end of the month when families have spent most of their monthly salaries without leaving much to be spent on luxuries. Clothes have become a luxury though food, drink, rent and school fees are all priorities.”

The manager of another store, who wanted to remain anonymous, pointed out, “The purchasing power in Lebanon is declining year by year.” He explained that the store’s customers were mostly people on minimum wage as well as affluent individuals.

He added: “Lebanese customers buy specific items which have reduced prices, while non-Lebanese customers spend large sums.”

A Saudi woman who was carrying many shopping bags seemed to be in a hurry while shopping in Beirut with her daughter said the market atmosphere was good and the prices were “very reasonable.”

However, Nada Hamed, a Lebanese woman who will soon travel to Australia, said: “My purchasing power is like everyone else’s; it gets affected by crises, causing my desire to shop to decrease.”

Protests against the deteriorating economic situation were translated by activists, who started petitions on social media websites to call for a demonstration in the vicinity of the National Museum of Beirut, During the demonstration, people carried banners that condemned “the quota in power” and “corruption.” They also chanted against senior officials and “the ruling mafia.”

Economist Ghazi Wazni explained that the decline in demand on Black Friday “reflects the great concern leading people to refrain from making purchases amid this ambiguous political situation which has been a deadlock.”

He added: “This year, economic activity dropped by 25 percent, and the trade sector was counting on the two months of November and December, during which several holidays and events take place, making them represent 30 percent of the economic activity in Lebanon. However, it seems the political crisis associated with not forming a government has been worrying people.”

Wazni pointed out that more than 35 percent of the Lebanese people are poor, while the middle class does not exceed 40 percent of the population and affluent families represent 25 percent.

“It seems the political crisis has created economic stagnation and sent many establishments into bankruptcy, which has led to economic and political suffering of 75 percent of the Lebanese population,” he added.

The formation of the new government is expected to lead to the implementation of reforms. However, the formation of the new government is still pending due to the existing political problems.

Saudi crown prince, Pompeo send a message to Iran: End hostility or pay the price

Updated 5 min 54 sec ago

Saudi crown prince, Pompeo send a message to Iran: End hostility or pay the price

  • The US secretary of state said the US was discussing a possible international response
  • MBS hoped the Iranian regime “would opt to become a normal state and cease its hostile policy”

JEDDAH: The US will take all actions necessary — “diplomatic and otherwise” — to deter Iran from disrupting Gulf energy supplies, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Sunday.

Pompeo spoke hours after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the Kingdom would “not hesitate in dealing with any threat against our people, sovereignty and vital interests.”

The twin warnings to the regime in Tehran followed last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, widely assumed to have been carried out by Iran.

“We don’t want war. We’ve done what we can to deter it,” Pompeo said in a TV interview. “But the Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this kind of behavior.

“What you should assume is we are going to guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the Strait of Hormuz. This is an international challenge, important to the entire globe. The US is going to make sure that we take all the actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, that achieve that outcome.”

Pompeo said the US was discussing a possible international response, and he had made a number of calls to foreign officials about the tanker attacks.

He said China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia relied heavily on freedom of navigation through the strait. “I’m confident that when they see the risk, the risk to their own economies and their own people, and outrageous behavior of Iran, they will join us in this.”

The Saudi crown prince, in an interview with the Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, said the Kingdom had “supported the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran out of our belief that the international community needed to take a decisive stance against Iran.”

He hoped the Iranian regime “would opt to become a normal state and cease its hostile policy.”

Crown Prince Mohammed said the Kingdom’s hand was always extended for peace, but the Iranian regime had disrespected the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Tehran by attacking the two oil tankers in the Gulf, one of which was Japanese.

“It also employed its militias to carry out a shameful attack against Abha International Airport. This is clear evidence of the Iranian regime’s policy and intentions to target the security and stability of the region.”

The crown prince said the attacks “underscore the importance of our demand before the international community to take a decisive stance against an expansionist regime that has supported terrorism and spread death and destruction over the past decades, not only in the region, but the whole world.”

Prince Mohammed’s interview was “a message to Tehran, and beyond Tehran, to the international community,” the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“He sent out the message that we do not want a war in the region. He was offering peace, as is our nature, and that is what we are doing now. But if it is going to affect our vital interests, our vital resources and our people, we will defend ourselves and take action to handle any threat.  

“We are facing aggressive, barbaric and terrorist threats from Iran, and we must take rapid and decisive action against that. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is sending a message to the world that there must be a solution.”