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[Video] Lebanon 2021 : Opportunities in a Nation of Resilience!

Dubai and Lebanon business and synergy opportunities : how to create a win-win collaboration ?

The French Business Council Dubai and Northern Emirates and the Meref CCI France Liban organised a webinar to propose to their business communities a warm up conference to explore potential collaboration for helping Lebanon on the road to recovery.

Speakers and panelists

  • Geoffroy Bunetel, President - French Business Council Dubai & Northern Emirates
  • HE Mr. Fouad Dandan, Lebanese Ambassador to the UAE
  • Mr. Jean-Claude el Khoury - Economic Attaché at the Lebanese Embassy to the UAE
  • Maxence Duault, President of Meref - CCI France Liban and Dean of ESA Business School
  • Alain Bejjani, CEO - Majid Al Futtaim
  • Joanne Sarraf Chehab, CEO - MALIA Group
  • Leila Serhan, Public Sector Director - Microsoft UAE
  • Joseph Moussalem, Board Member - French Business Council Dubai & Northern Emirates

Key Takaways

  • It's very important to realize the recent history that has been demonstrated for the last 30 years between Lebanon and UAE in terms of exchange know-how and expertise. Lebanese individuals to be given the opportunity to tab on the UAE uprising development and prove once again our capabilities to deliver top performance high quality and innovative products and services.
  • Several papers published before and during the crisis tried to address the situation from different angles. Two of them are still valid and unmissable: the Cedre conference and the McKenzie report. On the 6th of April 2018, the international donor community convened in Paris for the conference economic development by the referendum, known as Cedre conference. The Cedre Conference is a four-pillar plan focusing on: capital investment, fiscal adjustment, sectorial and structural reform, and the identification of the potential economic sectors which was led afterwards by the McKinsey vision.

  • The most important pillars here are the first and the fourth pillar: the capital investment plan (CIP) provides details on 269 infrastructure projects worth 23 billion dollars in all key sectors of the economy including electricity, water waste management and transportation, in order to improve Lebanon's dilapidated infrastructure. 

  •  The McKenzie report has identified in its Lebanon economic vision 6 different sectors that might drive economic growth if given the right support. 
    • Agriculture: Lebanon has the largest arable lands in the Middle East, and a potential to become the main supplier of high quality fruits and vegetables for the Levant and the GCC. 
    • Industry: Lebanon can capitalize on the creative edge to become a leader in high human value-add artistic products including jewelry, furniture and fashion. 
    • Tourism: Lebanon should built on its strong natural endowments and strategic locations to tap into its fair share of inbound tourists. (4 million)
    • Knowledge economy: Lebanon should aspire to become the leading knowledge hub for the Middle East serving as the region’s KBO (knowledge business outsourcing) and BPO (business process outsourcing) and the number one tech ecosystem. 
    • Financial services: Although previously identified as a sector with strong economic potential, given last year’s hardships, the Lebanese banking system is facing an existential threat today but for the past 80 years Lebanese banks have proven their professionalism and their know-how all across the region. Restructuring and consolidating this sector is a top priority to gain back the confidence of the international investors and customers. 
    • The Diaspora: Lebanon should aspire to greatly leverage the large diaspora for further dive of economic growth. 
  • Lebanon still have potential if appropriate time and money are invested in search for opportunities.

  • Nearly 7 billion us dollars were sent by the diaspora to Lebanon in 2020. The Diaspora can save Lebanon by itself but many of you will continue to invest in Lebanon and are therefore looking for the best opportunities, and by doing that you will strengthen demand and nurture Lebanon's future economy. 
  •  96 percent of companies are family businesses and many of them remember our previous crisis contributed in growing their fortunes it is also a factor that over the past two centuries Lebanese people have shown the ability to seize such opportunities especially in Africa or in some of the most difficult environments of the Middle East.
  • Successful investors are currently focusing on investing in the primary sectors such as local industry pharmaceutics and agriculture, others are looking with some success at ways to invest in real estate art and luxury.

  • Fashion, media, high value food, food chain industry, high value technology - not simple coding but really about how do we get the best experts in a specific domain working with enterprises around the region and around the world where they would understand their problems and find the right solution someone else can code. It's really about problem solving and domain expertise or industry expertise. The best one of the best soft skills of the Lebanese is problem solving.

  • Food safety is becoming is becoming top of mind across the board, we will be dealing with that across the market in Lebanon it's compounded with all the other elements when you think that people that basically prices have increased by about 400 percent during 2020.

  • The opportunity today in Lebanon is to find ways to support the local production in order to ship from the reliance on importing to actually the ability to to produce locally as well as to boost and support our local production in order to export outside of the country and there is a balance to be found between supplying the local market with with a credible currency and at the same time having the ability to export and getting the fresh followers that are readily needed to import raw material in order to continue to keep the operation going because as we all know Lebanese production has very little low raw material provided here so whether you are you are producing locally or whether you are importing, the end product in both cases you need a certain level of some level of imports in order to enable what you are doing.
  • We absolutely need to get to a point where we have a system that functions and this can only happen by actually having a government that actually has the ability and the willingness to put forward a plan a credible plan to move forward.
  • Lebanese entrepreneurial ship is amazing. We are seeing fantastic drive from the Lebanese business ecosystem to try to create opportunities or leverage opportunities outside of Lebanon in order to keep their operations going in Lebanon and that and also to pursue growth
  • The creative industries there is a lot of opportunities today, the cinema for example industry globally is in quite an interesting situation with streamers coming in quite an aggressive way given what's happened in 2020. 

View the video online

Recorded on Wednesday 24 February 2021

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