Lebanese drivers queue for hours as fuel crisis worsens

Lebanese drivers queue for hours as fuel crisis worsens
A driver fills his tank at a petrol station in the Lebanese capital Beirut on September 27, 2019. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 11 May 2021

Lebanese drivers queue for hours as fuel crisis worsens

Lebanese drivers queue for hours as fuel crisis worsens
  • Some stations rationed the amount of fuel sold to customers, mostly taxi drivers

BEIRUT: Motorists queued for hours at gas stations across Lebanon on Tuesday as fears of an imminent end to the country’s subsidy on fuel increased demand for a commodity already in short supply.

Payment delays are also keeping urgent oil stocks on offshore tankers, meaning that many gas stations are facing critical supply shortages.

Queues extended into streets as drivers waited to fill their cars. Some stations rationed the amount of fuel sold to customers, mostly taxi drivers. Other stores closed down entirely.

However, Fadi Abu Shakra, representative of the union for fuel distributors and gas stations in Lebanon, said that the confusion and fear surrounding gas supply was “unjustified.”

He denied news reports that oil companies have notified distributors of an end to fuel subsidies.

Georges Brax, a member of the gas station owners’ syndicate, said: “The fact is, some stations have been running on very low fuel stocks due to the rationing of credits, which has forced some of them to close.”

He added that more stations will open their doors as soon as importing companies begin distribution, warning that the problem is not with importing companies or station owners, but with the Central Bank of Lebanon.

“It is necessary to speed up the opening of credits for ships that have reached regional waters, which have prior approval so that they can unload their cargo, thus easing market tension,” he said.

Brax added: “We have to get used to this reality, because for weeks we have been facing the same problem and the fuel has not been cut off.”

However, he added that, given the complexity of the issue, “in the short term, subsidies will not be lifted.”

But the panic of the Lebanese seems justified as subsidies on food and over-the-counter medicines are being gradually lifted.

Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni has warned that Lebanon will “run out of money” to afford basic imports by the end of May if its remaining foreign currency reserves are not rationed.

According to Wazni, delays in launching the plan are costing the government about $500 million per month.

Bechara Asmar, head of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers, said that there is “chaos in the markets and in all sectors,” and that “citizens are standing in queues in front of bakeries, fuel stations, supermarkets, shops and pharmacies to secure their daily needs.”

He added: “There is no plan yet to protect low-income people who can no longer afford their basic needs. Who is responsible? Is the Bank of Lebanon solely responsible? Or is it collusion between some merchants, importers, mafias, money whales and officials?”

Some of Lebanon’s fuel supply is also being smuggled to Syria.

An investigation by North Lebanon First Investigative Judge Samaranda Nassar revealed that “smuggling of fuel from the north into Syria in large commercial quantities through several smuggling lines has been going on for about two weeks.

“The new line passes through the town of Baino toward old Akkar, Al-Qamou’a, Hermel and then into Syria,” a report said.

Nassar issued 15 arrest warrants in absentia in six cases relating to fuel smuggling.

A gas station in the border area of Al-Arida was also closed after it was established that the owners “had filled tanks with fuel to be smuggled into Syria.”


Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
Updated 15 June 2021

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
  • The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals"

RIYADH: The Saudi National Development Fund is preparing to launch a new fund targeting infrastructure projects in the Kingdom.
The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals", Asharq Business reported, citing unidentified sources.
Muhammad bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, deputy chairman of the National Development Fund said in February that the Kingdom had started to work  on the launch of an infrastructure fund.
Saudi Arabia launched an ambitious SR12 trillion ($3.2 trillion) program in March to boost the role of the private sector in diversifying the economy.
Under the 'Shareek program', private sector businesses will be helped to invest SR5 trillion between now and 2030, along with SR3 trillion from the country's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and SR4 trillion as part of a new national investment strategy.

 


Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
Updated 15 June 2021

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
  • A sale could value Octal at about $800 million

RIYADH: Octal, an Omani plastics packaging manufacturer, is considering a majority stake sale, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
A sale could value Octal at about $800 million, one of the people said. The company is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co., the people said, asking not to be identified for information confidentiality.  
The Muscat-based company has already attracted strategic suitors in Asia and the US, they said.
Octal was founded in 2006 and produces plastic used to package food and consumer products. The company is present in Oman, Saudi Arabia and the US and ships its products to more than 75 countries, according to its website.
The potential sale would add to the $96 billion of deals targeting companies in the Middle East and Africa this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs
Updated 15 June 2021

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs
  • Rising container costs are affecting both their imports of raw material as well as their export of finished garments according to Mohamed Kassem

RIYADH: Egyptian clothing manufacturers are being hammered by surging shipping costs.

Rising container costs are affecting both their imports of raw material as well as their export of finished garments according to Mohamed Kassem, a member of the Egyptian Exporters Association.

Fabrics from China account for most of the country’s clothing exports, he told Al Arabiya.
The cost of shipping a 40-feet container from Shanghai to an Egyptian port has rocketed to as much as $14,000 compared to $2,500 before the pandemic, he said.
That has led to increased competitive pressures for Egyptian textiles exporters from rivals in Asia.
He called on the state to intervene to help support the industry.


Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall
Updated 23 min 49 sec ago

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall
  • Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the national capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed shops and malls to open as the number of new cases dropped to the lowest in more than two months

BENGALURU: Indian shares ended at record highs on Tuesday, as declining COVID-19 infections prompted many states to re-open businesses, with a rally in broader markets also helping the sentiment.
The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.36 percent to 15,869.25 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex climbed 0.42 percent to 52,773.05 at close.
Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the national capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed shops and malls to open as the number of new cases dropped to the lowest in more than two months.
India on Tuesday reported 60,471 new infections, the lowest since March 31.
The sentiment also tracked global stocks that hit a record high, as investors bet likely “transitory” inflation pressures will restrain the US Federal Reserve from signalling a shift in policy settings.
Many investors expect the Fed to maintain its dovish stance at its two-day meeting starting on Tuesday. Some board members, however, have said the central bank should start discussing tapering its bond buying.
In Mumbai trading, financial stocks provided a boost to the Nifty 50, with ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank ending 1.6 percent and 0.7 percent higher, respectively.
The Nifty Bank Index and the Nifty Private Bank Index, which have so far gained more than 0.55 percent this week, were among the top performers across sub-indexes rising between 0.85 percent and 1.07 percent.
Software services firm Infosys rose 0.8 percent, lifting the Nifty IT index by 0.23 percent.
Shares of Future Retail closed 10 percent higher, after staying at those levels since early trade.


Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
Updated 15 June 2021

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
  • It will open on July 3
  • The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan

DUBAI: The Saraya Aqaba Waterpark – billed as the biggest in Jordan – is opening its doors on July 3.
Located in the country’s only coastal city, Aqaba, the park spans an area of more than 28,500 square meters. It has rides, slides, as well as food and beverage stalls.
“At Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, guests from all around the world are in for an aquatic adventure like no other with slides, rides and experiences suitable for guests of all ages,” Chris Van Der Merwe, its general manager said in a statement.
The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan, and is operated by Abu Dhabi-based Farah Experience, which also handles Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Theme parks and other physical attractions have taken a hit when the pandemic forced countries to restrict people’s mobility, however some are now welcoming guests again as attractions make a gradual return.