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LEBANON IS ON track to achieve a seven per cent growth in GDP in 2009, highlighting the country's continued economic surge and transformation into one of the region's most attractive investment hubs, revealed the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon during a panel discussion held recently at Cityscape Dubai 2009.
The country's improving economic conditions are manifested through various key economic indictors, including a sustained increase in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), a rise in bank deposits, growing tourist arrivals and expanding real estate developments among others. Speaking at the special panel discussion entitled "Lebanon and North Africa: A safe haven," Nabil Itani, Chairman-General Manager of Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), revealed that FDI in Lebanon has increased by 32 per cent from USD 2.5 billion in 2007 to US$3.6 billion in 2008, and is poised to grow by up to 20 per cent to reach US$4.32 billion this year. He also revealed that bank deposits have increased by 50 per cent from July 2008 to July 2009 despite the shortage in cash flow in the global market, further showcasing the growing stability and strength of the Lebanese economy. "After four years of political and economic challenges, Lebanon has now enjoyed economic stability and growth for the past two years, which underscores the resiliency of our economy and our country's ability to overcome major problems.
The excellent performance of the Lebanese economy is reflected on various economic indicators, including a prospected seven per cent increase in our GDP this year. Furthermore, several new business opportunities have opened in vital industries such as health tourism, conference tourism, ICT, and the services sector," said Itani.
Tourism has achieved one of the biggest gains in the past two years and Itani pointed out that Beirut was even acknowledged by the New York Times as one of the top tourist destinations in the world in 2009. With the rising tourist footfall, Itani revealed that hotels have witnessed a 100 per cent occupancy rate since March 2009 as the country expects to accommodate a total of 1.8 million tourists this year. Real estate demand for business, investment and residential use has also sharply increased resulting in new investment opportunities in infrastructure, business spaces, and shopping centres. According to recent real estate industry figures in Lebanon, the total number of building licenses issued increased by 19 per cent during the period January to August 2009 compared with the same period last year.