Kings of commerce

business as usual

Fittingly, on Hamra Street, the walk-of-fame style stars in the paving stones are actually signs for businesses, the real heroes of the Lebanese economy. With no major conflict since May 2008, when Hizbollah militia occupied parts of West Beirut, business is booming again and the IMF projected that economic growth in Lebanon would hit 7% in 2009. Fortunately, the Lebanese do not expect much from the government, which staggers on under crippling political dilemmas often sinking into stalemate, such as the six months without a president beginning in November 2007, or the six months without a government following the election of Saad Hariri as Prime Minister in June 2009. In stark contrast with the state, the people of Lebanon are impressively autonomous, flexible and dynamic. They have an inner drive for business, a throwback to Phoenecian times, ready to fill every niche market and jump on any rising trend. Known as a nation of bankers, the Lebanese are true marketers, whatever their line of work. Even the local church advertises upcoming funerals by SMS.

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