Beirut May 16, 2018: Banque Misr Liban SAL (BML) launched the first phase of its regional economic model project in the province of Iklim Kharroub, in cooperation with the Regional Development and Investment Fund. This step is a practical translation of Banque Misr Liban’s strategy to provide support to achieve comprehensive sustainable development. The Advanced Economic Zone project is considered to be the first of its kind in Lebanon, aimed to provide support to small and medium-sized enterprises in the region in various productive, technological, and agricultural sectors.
The launching ceremony was held at Beirut Arab University in Dabiya in the province of Iklim Kharroub, and was the perfect occasion to the announce the Development Partnership Agreement, which brought together BML, Regional Fund for Development and Investment Fund with a number of supporters for this project that includes the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, and the Lebanon Fund for Development and Innovation and Kafalat. They unite in their belief in the role SMEs play in promoting economic growth and providing sustainable employment opportunities, as well as increasing the size of the Lebanese economy and contributing to the development of its technological content.
Commenting on this initiative and on behalf of the Iklim Fund for Development and Investment, Dr. Mohammed Yassin said, “The region and its geographic and demographic traits are in need of an economic project, and this is what we are working on to achieve. At this stage, it is very important to cooperate with the people of the province of Iklim Kharroub in order to successfully launch the projects, as they are extremely beneficial to all of them.” Yassin pointed out that at this point, the work will be focused on infrastructure completion, in parallel to achieving several projects that will be distributed across several frameworks that target economic sectors.
Dr. Hashem Hussein, Head of Investment and Technology Promotion Office of UNIDO said, “Today’s partnership in Lebanon aims to find solutions for local investment development. What distinguishes the province of Kharroub is that it is an area with many resources, and this initiative will be a success story to solve a major and growing problem in the Arab region, that is food security. This will be implemented by creating a pilot project that will serve as a reference for other projects across many regions in Lebanon.”
Professor Ibrahim Adam El-Zakhairy, General Director of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD) said, “We have been working hard ever since we established the organization to develop activities related to agricultural development, in addition to technical assistance to provide means and solutions to develop and progress these activities. This could enhance the level of competition of Arab products, resolving the means to market them in foreign countries, and therefore achieving an integration of the Arab agriculture sector.” He continued, “We are confident that this project will bring about impressive results that meet our goals and objectives as this is based on integrated international, regional, and local partnerships.”
Nabil Itani, General Manager of Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) noted in his speech that IDAL is making a great deal of effort to achieve economic growth and spread a culture of specialized economic zones in all regions across Lebanon. According to Itani, this will create employment opportunities for the youth, promote entrepreneurship, and achieve economic growth by involving all Lebanese regions in the process of economic growth, by transforming them from consumer communities into productive communities. He guaranteed that this project is at the heart of IDAL’s work and efforts to provide an ideal business environment.
Executive General Manager of BML, Fadi El Daouk, emphasized the importance of this project as well as the partnership that brought together the private sector, economic bodies, and the banking sector with the aim of enhancing investment operations and developing many projects targeted on rural development. Daouk said, “At BML, we are committed to working in accordance with a strategy aimed in achieving sustainable development by supporting rural development through a series of facilities and loans that we provide in accordance with Kafalat, to support small and local projects through expatriate investments, which will then create employment opportunities for all segments of society, reducing migration and displacement from rural areas, and therefore alleviate overall economic and social problems.”
He added, “This project will be experimental and if successful, its plan will be implemented to all areas of Lebanon, with the knowledge that these types of projects are in need of support from expatriates in order to flourish and achieve their objectives, especially in the investment field. In this particular project, we hope that expatriates of the region will be the main supporters.”
Integrated projects will lead to a comprehensive economic process, as seen in the case of cattle and goat farms, dairy and cheese factories, plastic factories, olive oil, molasses, and carob factories, as well as healthy foods such as honey, and perfume and soap factories, local shops, restaurants, and hotels.