Will Lebanon’s support of UN compacts benefit Syrian refugees?

A number of Lebanese civil society organizations were involved in advising on the creation of the GCM. The Insan Association , which advocates for the rights of migrants, organized the Middle East’s regional civil society consultation , held Aug. 24-25, 2017. The purpose was to identify humanitarian priorities and then pass them along to the UN Secretariat overseeing the drafting of the resolution. “The GCM is a universal declaration, and Lebanon is a country that has 14 million Lebanese abroad

Iranian rights activists join in hunger strike behind bars

On August 1, Meysami was detained for the possession and distribution of pin-on badges that oppose the country's strict mandatory hijab policy. According to Iran's Human Rights Activists news agency (HRANA), which shares information about human rights issues in Iran, authorities are charging Meysami on three accounts: Collusion and conspiracy to threaten national security, disseminating propaganda against the regime and insulting the essential Islamic sacrament, the hijab. He has also been c

The Untouchable Hotel

While it is widely assumed that Lebanon’s real estate business is rife with unethical dealings, only a few detailed examples of wrongdoing actually come to light. In the case of Eden Bay, a resort situated along Ramlet al-Baida—Beirut’s last public beach—evidence of violations and fraud piled up throughout 2017. The disclosures culminated in the form of a report compiled mid-2017 by the president of the Beirut Order of Engineers and Architects (OEA), Jad Tabet. The report alleges eight violatio

Banque du Liban's stimulus programme under scrutiny

Since 2013 the BdL has injected emergency funds into various key sectors in order to prop up the country's faltering economy. The bulk of the stimulus funds, totalling about US$1bn annually, have been injected into the real-estate market in the form of subsidised-interest-rate mortgages, although loans have also been made available to prioritised productive sectors. Real estate accounts for around 15% of GDP and a large share of bank lending, and the BdL hoped boosting the sector would stimulate

No stimulus, no problem - Executive Magazine

Since 2013, Banque du Liban (BDL), Lebanon’s central bank, has announced over $6 billion in annual stimulus packages to prop up the country’s faltering economy. A range of sectors, from energy to education, have benefited from stimulus-facilitated credit, but none more so than the real estate market. Year after year, property developers and consumers have grown to expect and rely on the disbursement of BDL-subsidized mortgages, which have attracted the lion’s share of the government’s stimulus m

What’s the deal with garbage decentralization? - Executive Magazine

Over the past 10 years, the government has attempted and failed to implement plan after plan to end the country’s smoldering trash crisis. With each iteration, politicians criticize government inaction, while disagreeing on what to do with and where to put the garbage. On January 11, Lebanon took another swing at resolving this impasse, when the cabinet endorsed the Policy Summary on Integrated Solid Waste Management. The policy is intended to complement a draft law, which has been studied and r

Lebanon’s municipal fund runs over $2 billion deficit as waste expenses multiply

Expensive local fixes to Lebanon’s lingering waste crisis have caused a staggering $2 billion deficit in the country’s common municipal fund, sources with firsthand knowledge tell The National. The Independent Municipal Fund is a form of central government support for local municipalities made up the revenue from taxes and fees, such as levies on telecommunications and electricity. It is collected, held and distributed by the Finance Ministry based on size of local population and contribution t

Syrian refugees in Lebanon face eviction

Thousands of Syrian refugees residing in several municipalities across Lebanon are under threat by eviction campaigns that have ramped up in recent weeks. Aid workers from several humanitarian organizations say that reports of refugee evictions have increased in a number of predominantly Christian areas. Nowhere is the issue more evident than in Haddath, where up to 6,000 individuals — including 1,800 children — could be at risk of expulsion, Allison Zelkowitz, the country director of Save the

Lebanon's hunting season could curb illegal bird 'massacre'

BEIRUT - On a spring day in 1981, Assad Serhal scanned the forest trees of Oklahoma on a mission to find and study the Flicker Woodpecker, the subject of a university research project. When the fluttering of a bird caught his eye, he raised his binoculars and focused the optics in anticipation. It was not the species he was searching for, but what he found would unexpectedly change his life. A Bobwhite Quail, an otherwise unremarkable game bird, was intently protecting a covey of offspring. As

Middle East looks to Nudge Theory amid economic strain

Comment: Several monarchies in the region are embarking on national transformation agendas that could prove to be opportune conduits for the spread of Nudge Theory, writes Scott Preston. Confronted by a regional economic downturn and mounting demands on public services, the countries of the Middle East are struggling to cope with an increasing strain on their financial resources. Now, governments across the region are turning to the prospects of Nudge Theory to help offset their pressing budget

What’s behind Hezbollah’s safe zone project in Syria's Qalamoun?

A Lebanese Hezbollah fighter holds his weapon after the group advanced into Khashaat in the Qalamoun region of Syria, May 15, 2015. Photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces consolidate their authority over Syria, the armed factions on both sides of the conflict are now under pressure to bolster their holdings in anticipation of a looming political settlement. As part of the rising trend, regime ally Hezbollah may be looking to secure its influence in western

A race against the clock for Syrian refugees

Robert Ward, the refugee coordinator at the US embassy in Beirut, said that the logisitical constraints at the mission has resulted in the whole process being delayed. "We don't have a lot of sleeping quarters for the DHS officers who come out to do interviews and they have to stay on the compound because that's what our security people have directed. In places like Turkey or Jordan we don't do the interviews at the embassy," Ward said. "We do them in a different building downtown that we

Unemployed and underemployed - Executive Magazine

Perhaps few issues in Lebanon are cause for more spirited debate than access to employment for Syrian refugees. Yet due to insufficient data, the economics of the issue have only been credibly argued in the most macro of terms. Nevertheless, a series of new development projects and policy reforms could provide more employment opportunities for both displaced Syrians and Lebanese citizens. This was a key theme of an international donor conference held in London in February 2016. Speaking at the e

Lebanon positions itself as hub for Syrian reconstruction

Lebanon positions itself as hub for Syrian reconstruction There may be no end in sight of the Syrian war, but Lebanon is already positioning itself as a hub for Syrian reconstruction markets once the war is over. Strategically located between the Mediterranean Sea and some of Syria's most devastated provinces such as Homs and Damascus, Lebanon could become one of the most important gateways for reconstruction efforts. According to the World Bank, the restoration of Syria represents an industry

Yoga in the Camps - Sport - SOBEIRUT

In a tented settlement along Lebanon’s Syrian border a crew of aid workers and volunteers cushion the dusty ground with rubberized mats. From the sidelines displaced Syrian children look on in anticipation of their first yoga experience. This UNICEF camp might be a far cry from the scenic beaches of the average yoga advertisement, but then again, this isn’t an average session. 17 yogis from Union Square Yoga studio in Beirut have amended their weekday schedules to introduce this eastern practic

After Operation Decisive Storm, bigger storms lie ahead for Yemen – Middle East Monitor

For over three weeks Saudi aircraft rained bombs upon the impoverished country of Yemen during Operation Decisive Storm. The mission concluded officially on 21 April but as airstrikes continue and fighting still rages, other storms are brewing that threaten the population as a whole and could further strain a deepening water crisis in the arid country. Over the years, a handful of meteorologist at the Civil Aviation and Meteorological Authority (CAMA) have been tracking an increase in dust stor