Lebanon Daily News Brief 03/18/2022

Friday, March 18, 2022


Lebanese Banks To Strike In Reaction to Judicial Orders
Lebanese banks plan a two-day strike next week protesting several judicial orders that have targeted seven major lenders. According to Reuters, “The banking association said the strike was a warning against what it called “the arbitrariness of some judicial decisions” – a reference to orders that have frozen the assets of seven banks since March 14 and banned six of their executives from travel.” [Reuters]

Minister of Culture Designates Beirut Port Silos as Architectural Heritage Sites 
According to L’Orient Today, “Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada issued a statement Friday evening listing the ruined grain silos of Beirut port as historic architecture and forbidding ‘any action that would change their current status without the prior approval of the Culture Ministry’.” [L’Orient Today] This decision comes amid recent deliberations of the government to demolish the now defunct grain silos as well as the ensuing demonstrations protesting such a decision before the completion of an investigation surrounding the August 4th, 2020 explosion that destroyed the same silos. 

Lebanese-Founded Tutoring Platform to Expand Across Middle East
The Lebanese-founded, Saudi-based tutoring platform AlGooru has announced its acquisition by Jeddah-based ChillLearn and its subsequent expansion across the MENA region. AlGooru is an online tutoring platform that aims to create new solutions in the field of education by connecting students with on-demand private tutors and allowing them to book online or in-person sessions. It was founded by Lebanese entrepreneur Khalid Abou Kassem. [The961]



Can The Lebanese Feed Themselves? Ask USAID.

Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “According to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), “Lebanon has the highest proportion of cultivable land, per capita, in the Arab world. Approximately 60% of citizens outside greater Beirut rely on agriculture—directly or indirectly—and related industries for some form of household income; yet, the Lebanese agribusiness sector is underutilized. Food insecurity is also a problem.” With poverty now afflicting more than 70% of the population, initiatives to restart the agricultural sector are increasingly being funded by international donors. USAID alone has several types of programs focused on improving agricultural production, marketing, and export . . . The agricultural community is cooperative but there are many steps involved in the export of agricultural products, from strengthening “food safety by upgrading food testing laboratories to comply with export market food standards, to making agribusiness more efficient and demand driven,” hopefully both increasing income generation and attracting new entrants into the sector.”

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Al Monitor
In Lebanon, Deterioration Of Health System Endangers Cancer Patients’ Lives

Clement Gibon

Gibon writes, “While Lebanon imports more than 95% of the pharmaceuticals available in the local market due to its low pharmaceutical production, the country’s financial crisis — which resulted in a dollar shortage — has significantly reduced its capacity to import medicines. At the same time, the scarcity of public funds is threatening the end of government subsidies for an ever-increasing number of medicines. In November, Health Minister Firas Abiad announced a reduction from $120 million per month to about $35 million in medical subsidies. The situation worries doctors like Ali Taher, associate vice president for Medical Advancement and Communications at the American University of Beirut Medical Center and director of the Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute, a leading center that receives and offers treatment to around 40% of the cancer population in Lebanon. He fears a reduction of government subsidies on all drugs, including those for treating chronic diseases and cancers.”

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.