Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months

Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months
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Updated 24 January 2022

Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months

Lebanon’s government holds budget meeting, 1st in months
  • Lebanon’s economic crisis has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world since the 1850s

Lebanon’s government met on the budget Monday for the first time in more than three months as talks with the International Monetary Fund about the country’s economic meltdown were poised to resume.


The developments were aimed at controlling Lebanon’s worst economic crisis in its history.

The Cabinet meeting at the presidential palace was held after the powerful Hezbollah and its main Shiite ally ended their boycott and were poised to participate in the design of a recovery plan.


The draft budget for 2022 is expected to propose increasing taxes and fees in a country struggling to deal with soaring poverty levels and hyperinflation.


It also projects spending more than 49 trillion pounds while revenues stand at just over 39 trillion pounds, with a deficit of about 21 percent.

Critics say that the deficit will be covered by printing money, in what would lead the Lebanese pound that has lost more than 90 percent of its value over the past two years to lose more in the coming months.


It is not clear what exchange rate the government will use for the budget as there are several rates around the country.

The official rate still stands at 1,500 pounds to the US dollar while the black market rate is about 23,000 pounds.

Several other rates are used for withdrawal of bank deposits.


Lebanese economist Alia Moubayed described the draft budget as “malignant and dangerous,” with problems ranging from the use of several exchange rates to indirectly legalizing the transfer of foreign currency deposits into Lebanese pounds.

Also of concern, she tweeted, is the government’s failure or refusal to recognize the “disastrous” economic and social status that resulted from decades of corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s political class.


Lebanon’s economic crisis has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world since the 1850s.

The meltdown has left three-quarters of the population of 6 million people, including 1 million Syrian refugees, in poverty.


The government is expected to discuss the draft budget every day until Friday. If approved, it will be sent to Parliament for discussion and will need majority vote to pass.


The meeting is the first since Oct. 12, when Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal party of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, demanded changes in the national probe of the devastating August 2020 explosion in Beirut’s port and effectively paralyzing the government.


Hezbollah had called for the investigative judge in the port blast to be removed, accusing him of bias.

Judge Tarek Bitar has meanwhile faced a slew of legal challenges and lawsuits calling for his removal, which forced him to suspend the probe at least four times.

The probe is currently suspended.


Bitar had summoned and charged several senior officials on charges of intentional negligence that led to the explosion, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.

The two Shiite groups vowed to continue their efforts to remove the judge.


PIF-backed Lucid Motors to set up first overseas unit in Saudi Arabia

PIF-backed Lucid Motors to set up first overseas unit in Saudi Arabia
Updated 2 min 27 sec ago

PIF-backed Lucid Motors to set up first overseas unit in Saudi Arabia

PIF-backed Lucid Motors to set up first overseas unit in Saudi Arabia
  • The Saudi Industrial Development Fund financed the project with $1.3 billion

JEDDAH: US-based Lucid Motors has signed agreements on Wednesday to build a production factory in Saudi Arabia with an annual capacity of 155,000 zero-emission electric vehicles.

The deals are estimated to provide financing and incentives to Lucid up to $3.4 billion in total over the next 15 years to build and operate the manufacturing facility in the Kingdom.

To be located in King Abdullah Economic City, AMP-2 is the Public Investment Fund-backed electric vehicle manufacturer’s first production facility outside the US, according to a statement. 

This project demonstrates the confidence investors have in Saudi Arabia’s competitiveness.

Khalid Al-Falih

The Saudi Industrial Development Fund financed the project with SR5 billion ($1.3 billion), said Bandar Alkhorayef, the minister of industry and mineral resources. 

The project is expected to create over 4,500 jobs in KAEC, said Cyril Piaia, CEO of Emaar The Economic City, master developer of KAEC. 

Saudi government and Lucid Motor’s officials at a ceremony to sign agreements for the development of a production facility in the Kingdom. AN photo

“We have a technology-based factory, we will bring thousands of high-tech jobs to the Kingdom,” Peter Rawlinson, CEO of Lucid Motors, said. 

“Attracting a global leader in electric vehicles such as Lucid to open its first international manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia reflects our commitment to creating long-term economic value in a sustainable, enduring, and globally integrated way,” Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said. 

“This project demonstrates the confidence investors have in Saudi Arabia’s competitiveness, its ability to create opportunity, and serve global demand for a highly complex product such as electric vehicles,” Al-Falih added. 

About 85 percent of the factory’s production will be exported, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s competitive location and abilities, AlKhorayef said. 

The agreements were signed between the Saudi Investment Ministry, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, Emaar, The Economic City, at King Abdullah Economic City and the Gulf International Bank.


Investing in Metaverse is a waste of time: Futurist-in-Chief at Dubai Future Foundation

Investing in Metaverse is a waste of time: Futurist-in-Chief at Dubai Future Foundation
Updated 18 May 2022

Investing in Metaverse is a waste of time: Futurist-in-Chief at Dubai Future Foundation

Investing in Metaverse is a waste of time: Futurist-in-Chief at Dubai Future Foundation

DUBAI: As the business world is increasingly fascinated by the Metaverse, Noah Raford, futurist-in-chief and chief of Global Affairs at Dubai Future Foundation, claimed that investing in this advanced technology is just a waste of time. 

While speaking at the Top CEO Forum, Raford argued that people should invest in video games, as it is the only successful digital economy so far. 

However, Fady Kassatly, partner of Enterprise Solutions and Cloud, KPMG, said the Metaverse is nothing but the next evolution, which will make people live differently. 

He also added the Metaverse is going to evolve quickly in different directions, and this is just the beginning of the journey. 

On his part, Philippe Blanchard, founder of Futurous, stated the Metaverse will change the relationship between humans and nature. 

Predicting an inevitable Metaverse future, Valerie Hawley, Director of Sorbonne Center for Artificial Intelligence, said every business will look at the Metaverse space and consider using it in the coming years. 

She also added the Metaverse is a projection of the world that humans would like to live in. 


Blockchain creating ‘Internet of value’: Crypto Oasis co-founder

Blockchain creating ‘Internet of value’: Crypto Oasis co-founder
Updated 18 May 2022

Blockchain creating ‘Internet of value’: Crypto Oasis co-founder

Blockchain creating ‘Internet of value’: Crypto Oasis co-founder

DUBAI: Blockchain technology is transforming “internet of information into internet of value,” according to Saqr Mashhor Ereiqat, the co-founder of Crypto Oasis. 

While speaking at a session in the Top CEO Forum, Ereiqat also noted that the majority of the people use the Internet, but do not know how it works.

Ereiqat added that he used to advise governments on how they can use blockchain to benefit them. He, however, made it clear that governments like to control the network they offer.  

Ereiqat also noted that blockchain provides a way to trace a value from beginning to end. 

Franck Mandon, chief operating officer of Nujumz, during the session told that blockchain is going to transform the way humans trusted each other. 

However, Paritosh Ghambir, partner audit KPMG, noted that most clients need education about blockchain. 

Gambhir added: “Just because it is a blockchain does not mean it could be fully trusted.” 


China In-Focus: Goldman Sachs revised China’s GDP downwards to 4% amid COVID-19 control 

China In-Focus: Goldman Sachs revised China’s GDP downwards to 4% amid COVID-19 control 
Updated 18 May 2022

China In-Focus: Goldman Sachs revised China’s GDP downwards to 4% amid COVID-19 control 

China In-Focus: Goldman Sachs revised China’s GDP downwards to 4% amid COVID-19 control 

RIYADH: Tight Covid-19 controls are seen exacerbating China’s economic stance. America’s Goldman Sachs revised the Asian country’s gross domestic product downwards to 4 percent. The country’s stocks also fell on Wednesday due to the lockdown consequences. On top of this, several factories and plans are expected to leave the country in light of rising labor costs, worsening trade tensions with the US, and Covid-19 impacts. Meanwhile, some buyers are eyeing liquified natural gas demand rebound as covid-19 is expected to unwind soon.

·      American multinational investment bank and financial services company Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has revised China’s GDP downwards to 4 percent, down from 4.5 percent previously, Bloomberg reported, citing economic data from April. In addition to this, the investment banking company also cut forecasts for the second quarter to 1.5 percent year-on-year, down from 4 percent originally. 

·      China’s stocks dropped on Wednesday amid fears that government stimulus and policies will not be enough to help the economy recover from COVID-19 repercussions. This comes as China’s blue-chip index, also referred to as CSI300, lost 0.4 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 percent.

·      Several factories and plants might leave China amid rallying labor costs, exacerbated US-China trade tensions, and tight Covid-related controls, CNBC reported, citing multiple firms and analysts. However, the issue that prevails is that supply chain diversification is difficult to implement, CNBC reported, citing Nick Marro, global trade leader at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

·      Some Chinese buyers are contemplating the purchase of LNG cargoes from August onwards on the hopes that virus restrictions will ease thus raising demand for the fuel once again in the process, Bloomberg reported. Nevertheless, spot prices will still have to further drop before any deals are sealed. 

 


MBC-backed Al Arabia more than doubles profit to $17m on strong client base

MBC-backed Al Arabia more than doubles profit to $17m on strong client base
Updated 18 May 2022

MBC-backed Al Arabia more than doubles profit to $17m on strong client base

MBC-backed Al Arabia more than doubles profit to $17m on strong client base

RIYADH: Outdoor advertising provider Arabian Contracting Services Co., known as Al Arabia, has more than doubled its profits during the first quarter.

Profits of the Riyadh-based firm, partly owned by media giant MBC group, soared to SR64.9 million ($17.3 million) in the first quarter from SR29.6 million during the same period last year, a bourse filing revealed.

Economic recovery, along with a continued digitization push in the Kingdom, led to a 93 percent increase in revenues year-on-year to SR287 million.

Al Arabia said that digital transformation led to an expansion in its client base in the current year to include new sectors, which in turn propelled solid first-quarter figures.