Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank

Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank
In this Aug. 6, 2020 file photo, a soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon. (File/AP)
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Updated 01 December 2020

Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank

Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank
  • The fall 2020 edition of the Lebanon Economic Monitor predicted the economy will have contracted by 19.2 percent this year
  • Lebanon’s economy started collapsing last year as a result of years of corrupt practices and mismanagement

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s economy is sinking into a “deliberate depression,” the World Bank said Tuesday in a damning report stressing the authorities’ failure to tackle the crisis.
The fall 2020 edition of the Lebanon Economic Monitor predicted the economy will have contracted by 19.2 percent this year and projected a debt-to-GDP ratio of 194 percent next year.
“A year into Lebanon’s severe economic crisis, deliberate lack of effective policy action by authorities has subjected the economy to an arduous and prolonged depression,” a World Bank statement said.
Lebanon’s economy started collapsing last year as a result of years of corrupt practices and mismanagement.
The crisis was made worse by a nationwide wave of anti-government protests that paralyzed the country late last year and the Covid-19 pandemic this year.
The August 4 Beirut port blast, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, brought the country to its knees and further fueled public distrust.
“Lebanon is suffering from a dangerous depletion of resources, including human capital, with brain drain becoming an increasingly desperate option,” the World Bank warned.
In 2020, Lebanon defaulted on its debt, banks imposed capital controls and inflation has reached triple-digit rates, dragging the country into its worst ever economic crisis.
Instead of taking emergency measures to rescue the economy, Lebanon’s political elite has continued to dither and bicker.
The previous government headed by Hassan Diab failed to adopt ambitious policies to tackle the crisis. It resigned under pressure over the blast nearly four months ago and a new cabinet has yet to be formed.
“Lack of political consensus on national priorities severely impedes Lebanon’s ability to implement long-term and visionary development policies,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank regional director.
He called for the quick formation of a new government capable of implementing short-term emergency measures and addressing long-term structural challenges.
“This is imperative to restore the confidence of the people of Lebanon,” he said.
An annual index compiled by Gallup that tracks people’s experience of stress and sadness said “no other country in the world saw negative experiences skyrocket across the board as much as Lebanon.”
The Negative Experience Index’s data was collected before the Beirut port blast, Lebanon’s worst ever peace time disaster.


Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China
Terry He, the CEO of Huawei Tech Investment in Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom is a very important market for the company. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2021

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

RIYADH/JEDDAH: Chinese tech firm Huawei has signed an agreement with Kaden Investment for the launch in Saudi Arabia of its largest store outside China.
During the signing ceremony, at the Ministry of Investment headquarters in Riyadh, Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih highlighted the importance of investment in information and communications technology, along with energy and entertainment, which are important pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.
He said that the agreement with Huawei is a symbol of the prosperity that comes from long-term partnerships, in this case a 20-year relationship with the Chinese business. It is a “long-standing digital partner and ahead of the curve” in spotting the potential offered by the Kingdom, he added.
“Huawei has played an instrumental role in Saudi Arabia’s development, collaborating with government and private enterprises to enhance our nation’s technological infrastructure,” said Al-Falih. “It continues to share our commitment to talent development, innovation and ambition, the values which underpin Vision 2030.”
Terry He, the CEO of Huawei Tech Investment in Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom is a very important market for the company.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce the next step in Huawei’s commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to open the largest Huawei flagship store in the overseas market,” he added. “This will provide customers with an unprecedented, immersive full-scenario experience.”
Fahad Alarjani, a member of the Saudi Chinese Business Council, welcomed the agreement as a “huge success” for the Ministry of Investment, in collaboration with other Saudi ministries, in attracting high-tech investments to Saudi Arabia, “especially given that Huawei is considered a technology giant in China and the world.”
Alarjani, a doctorate-level scholar in sustainable entrepreneurship, SMEs development, and marketing strategies, said it is important that agencies in the Kingdom work together to create a fertile, world-leading environment for investors so that they can attract the latest, and sustainable, technological innovations.
“This will help to open new markets and speed up entrepreneurial development,” he added. “It is important to be aware of the fact that Chinese companies are working hard on being pioneers of 5G.”

The agreement with Huawei is a symbol of the prosperity that comes from long-term partnerships, in this case a 20-year relationship with the Chinese business.

Khalid Al-Falih, Investment minister

Saleh M. Al-Saleem, a professor of computer and information sciences at King Saud University, said: “The agreement will definitely entail training programs to transfer technology, and an investment by a company of this size in the Saudi market is an acknowledgment on its part of the huge size of the technological sector in the Kingdom.”


He added that the agreement opens the door for increased competition between the biggest international companies in the sector, and will contribute to lower costs and enhanced services in the Kingdom.
Saudi consumers also expressed excitement about the news. Pharmaceutical science graduate Ruwaid Mahalawi, 29, who lives in Jeddah and describes himself as a Huawei fan, said: “It’s nice to see big names coming into Saudi Arabia and this is only the start — it will inspire more companies to invest in the Kingdom and recognize the market is extremely welcoming.”
Saudis are a very tech savvy society, he said. “Children and adults alike use electronic devices — especially now, with the pandemic — whether it’s for work or schooling. I think it’s shedding light on how big the market is here.”
Mahalawi’s wife, 26-year-old Wajd Abdullah, is also a fan of the Chinese firm and said she ditched her iPhone for a Huawei Mate. She appreciates the added level of service that is provided when a tech brand sells its products through its own stores, rather than through third-party retailers.
“It’s always best when a brand’s own store opens,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about insurance for the gadgets or quality. The store staff will be more knowledgeable and helpful, too, and that helps to ensure customers will return.”
An opening date for the new store, which will be in Riyadh, has yet to be announced.