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Lebanon, July 11, 2007

Beirut is Open for Business

Or at least real estate business development...

cranes and mosques
Beirut building cranes
If you've been following the news over the last year, you'll know that there's been a bit of trouble in Lebanon like last year's conflict where Israel invaded Southern Lebanon and bombed most of the country in its failed attempt to rescue two Israeli soldiers and quash Hezbollah and the continuing car bombing of government officials like Walid Eido.

With that backdrop you would expect the city of Beirut to be empty of people, its residents abroad or back in rural villages to escape the climate of fear and uncertainty in Lebanon's capitol. This is mostly true, for the downtown shops are empty during the day, and at night many of the city's apartment buildings are dark.

But that does not mean business has stopped, especially the construction industry. All across Beirut, construction cranes spear the sky in testament to the enduring optimism of Lebanese real estate developers. The very same developers who have not dropped office rents in the Solidaire, even increasing them over the past few years despite the political turmoil.

Do they know something that everyone else does not? Or are they, like their American counterparts, awash in low-cost capital that can finance even risky ventures easily? Either way, Beirut is an impressive sight with all the buildings going up.

Not Dubai or Shanghai mind you, but shocking in a city you expect to be deserted by investors and residents alike.

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