Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses

Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses
For those paid in Lebanese pounds, the Big Mac is becoming an increasingly unaffordable luxury. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 July 2021

Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses

Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses
  • Lebanese pound is 70 percent undervalued according to the Big Mac Index
  • A split is emerging between those paid in Lebanese pounds and those in dollars

RIYADH: Lebanon is home to the world’s cheapest Big Mac after the pound slumped in value, leaving it more than 70 percent undervalued against the US dollar, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

At 29,904 Lebanese pounds, a Big Mac is not cheap for those being paid in local currency, but with an exchange rate of 17,800 to the dollar, it costs just $1.68 for tourists and those lucky enough to get paid in dollars.

The slump in the Lebanese pound is exacerbating and accelerating inflation on a basic basket of goods, such as rice, sugar and flour, on a daily basis, said Lebanese economic analyst Bassel Al-Khatib.

Most people are paid in the local currency in Lebanon, where the national minimum wage stands at 675,000 Lebanese pounds per month, which was once worth almost $450 at the official exchange rate, but today barely fetches $30 on the black market, according to the Crisis Observatory at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

The Observatory said the cost of food has soared by 700 percent over the past two years, and this increase had picked up pace to 50 percent in the past few weeks alone.

Most Lebanese people are getting poorer on a daily basis, pushing some of them to sell their gold, cars and even furniture to survive, while others wait for US dollar transfers from their relatives abroad, or wait for civil society aid, Al-Khatib told Arab News.

This is all reflected in Lebanese social media, which is flooded with donation requests for new-born baby milk and medications that are not available anymore in the markets or are sold for extremely high prices. There are also numerous donation requests for people in need of food.

At the same time, others are sharing their expensive restaurant bills, such as Babel Baher who spent 5 million Lebanese pounds on a meal and posted the cheque on Facebook.

“$250 is almost nothing for someone coming from abroad,” a Facebook user called Rania wrote under the post. “This is a very cheap bill for someone who has US dollars and this dinner is not expensive at all compared to abroad.”

Al Khatib said that those paid in US dollars are living an affordable life with only $300 out of their salaries while before they needed $3,000 to have the same quality of life.

“The patchwork policies to support some commodities is not helping as all commodities that are subsidized are smuggled, ” said Al Khatib.

The country’s mismanagement with no plan or economic vision to save Lebanon from its worsening crisis, led us here, and there are no positive prospects as long as there are no radical solutions in the country, he said.


Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 18 sec ago

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO
  • Although America continues to be their biggest market, Asia is going to be very important in the future Investcorp
  • The company is currently pursuing a five-year growth plan

Bahrani investment company Investcorp has ambitious plans to be a 100-billion-dollar company in seven years, its chief Mohammed Al-Ardhi said, saying the company is currently valued at nearly $40 billion.

“We believe in about seven years we can get there [through] acquisitions, organic growth, joint ventures, [these] are things that we have done and we will continue to do,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“We operate in America, North America and Europe, in the Gulf and in Asia. America and Europe are 80 percent of our markets at the moment,” Al-Ardhi added.

The company is currently pursuing a five-year growth plan.

“Obviously it is about changing our model for many years. We have served the retail investors in the deal-by-deal model. We would like to change that. So, we target sustainable capital, institutional capital,” he said.

“The structure of going private (delisting) is the right thing for us to do now as we prepare the company for the next stage of its growth,” he added.

Al-Ardhi added although America continues to be their biggest market, Asia is going to be very important in the future Investcorp.

“The growth that is happening on the scale that it is happening there is just something you cannot ignore. We started our businesses in India two years ago and in China, we have offices in both of these countries and in Singapore. In China, we have concentrated on the consumer, on technology, on food. In India, we have concentrated financial services on the consumers and health care,” he said.

“We see a lot of growth there and we see a lot of appetite of our investors to actually -whether retail or institutional- to get the opportunities that we can bring in India and China and Southeast Asia,” Al-Ardhi added.


Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund
Updated 19 min 48 sec ago

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund
  • The Riyadh development consists of high-end office spaces, as well as a retail space with a hotel and a gym.
  • The offering is expected to raise equity of SR370 million ($98.6 million)

DUBAI: Advisory firm Jadwa Investment has launched the second offering of its real estate investment trust (REIT) Saudi fund to acquire a luxury retail and office complex in Riyadh.

The offering is expected to raise equity of SR370 million ($98.6 million), which will be used to purchase “The Boulevard.”

The Riyadh development consists of high-end office spaces, as well as a retail space with a hotel and a gym.

Once acquired, the complex will become one of the fund’s flagship properties, representing 13.4 percent of its assets. It is expected to generate a net rental income of SR29.6 million annually.

“We are pleased to offer our existing and potential clients the opportunity to invest in Jadwa REIT Saudi at an attractive price and to gain exposure to prime real estate assets across Saudi Arabia,” Tariq Al-Sudairy, chief executive officer and managing director of Jadwa Investment, said.

The Jadwa REIT Saudi Fund is a closed-end, Shariah-compliant fund with a term of 99 years and total gross assets value of SR2.19 billion.

The acquisition will push the fund’s assets by 16.9 percent to SR2.56 billion.


Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO

Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO
Updated 21 min 57 sec ago

Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO

Saudi builder Arriyadh Development appoints PIF exec Jihad Al-Qadi as CEO
  • The Tadawul-listed company is involved in a number of public service projects
  • He holds more than 18 years of experience in the financial and investment sector

DUBAI: Saudi developer Arriyadh Development Company (ARDCO) has appointed Jihad bin Abdul Rahman Al-Qadi as its new chief executive officer.

The Tadawul-listed company is involved in a number of public service projects, including building, operating, and managing transportation centers and public markets.

Newly appointed Al-Qadi will assume the position in December, the company said in a stock exchange filing.

He holds more than 18 years of experience in the financial and investment sector. He has also worked in the treasury sector of the National Bank of Saudi Arabia, Jadwa Investment Co., and the Saudi Economic and Development Co.

He previously worked at the Public Investment Fund, where he was the director of real estate asset management and director of institutional development.

Al-Qadi is a member of a number of boards of directors, including that of the Islamic Development Bank Fund for Infrastructure, and the Saudi Economic Association.

The appointment is part of the company’s ongoing plans to boost value for its shareholders.


Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises
  • Businesses in the central region of Riyadh got the lion's share as they received the highest Kafalah support
  • The Kafalah program spans several business sectors

The Small and Medium Enterprises Loan Guarantee Program (Kafalah), a government initiative to finance small and medium enterprises, granted SR432 million ($115 million) of loans to 456 businesses led by women in the first half of 2021, according to Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.


Businesses in the central region of Riyadh got the lion's share as they received the highest Kafalah support, with 151 establishments accounting for 33 percent of the total, taking SR178 million in financing. This was followed closely by Makkah region with 115 establishments, or 25 percent, receiving SR97 million. The Eastern Province came third, with 102 establishments, or 22 percent, receiving SR99 million.


The Kafalah program spans several business sectors including wholesale commerce, catering and hotels, manufacturing industries, and administrative and support services.


Dubai’s Amanat sells stake in Jeddah IMC hospital for $118m

IMC image: celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the pledge of allegiance
Updated 26 September 2021

Dubai’s Amanat sells stake in Jeddah IMC hospital for $118m

IMC image: celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the pledge of allegiance
  • The divestment resulted in a cash return of 100 million dirhams
  • The move is part of the Dubai firm’s strategy to exit minority investments, and pursue more specialized opportunities in health and education

DUBAI: Dubai-based investment firm Amanat Holdings has completed the sale of its minority 13.13 percent share in Jeddah hospital International Medical Center (IMC) for SR443 million ($118 million).

The transaction was done through the Saudi Healthcare and Education fund, which is indirectly owned by Amanat through its subsidiaries.

The divestment resulted in a cash return of 100 million dirhams, and is expected to report a gain of 40 million dirhams, Amanat said in a statement.

“IMC has a unique market position in Saudi Arabia and is a reputable provider of quality healthcare. We invested through the Fund in IMC nearly five years ago, with a different vision to obtain exposure across recognized assets through minority stakes,” Hamad Alshamsi, Amanat chairman, said.

The move is part of the Dubai firm’s strategy to exit minority investments, and pursue more specialized opportunities in health and education.

IMC is a 300-bed multi-disciplinary tertiary care hospital that serves the Kingdom’s western region.