With the crisis in Dubai and in the rest of the World, added to the surprising Lebanon’s economy bonanza, thousands of Lebanese are coming back to their country after a long economic exile. With peace and sort of stability since 2008, even the tourism is kicking off as never before…
Lebanon says 2009 was best on record for tourism BEIRUT, Lebanon – The Tourism Ministry says about 1.9 million tourists came to Lebanon in 2009, the highest number of visitors to come to the mountainous Arab nation ever. The new figure exceeds those from the time before Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, when Beirut was dubbed the “Paris of the Middle East.” Figures released this week show that 1,851,081 tourists visited Lebanon in 2009, a 39 percent increase from the previous year. The 2009 number is the highest ever and broke the 1974 record of 1.4 million tourists, the ministry reported. Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud estimated the country’s annual income from tourism at up to $7 billion, or about 20 percent of gross domestic product. -AP
Reshuffling the Cards? (I): Syria\’s Evolving Strategy
This executive summary and recommendations is also available in Arabic.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Syria’s foreign policy sits atop a mountain of apparent contradictions that have long bedevilled outsiders. Its self-proclaimed goal is peace with Israel, yet it has allied itself with partners vowed to Israel’s destruction. It takes pride in being a bastion of secularism even as it makes common cause with Islamist movements. It simultaneously has backed Iraqi Sunni insurgents and a Lebanese Shiite armed group. The U.S. has wavered between different approaches in unsuccessful attempts to persuade Damascus to clarify its stance, from a peace process focus in the 1990s to isolation and pressure under George W. Bush in the following decade. Barack Obama, having turned an old page without settling on a new one, seems intent on engagement on bilateral issues, albeit more cautious than ambitious. It might work, but not in the way it has been proceeding. Syria might amend its policies, but only if it is first reassured about the costs – in terms of domestic stability and regional standing. That will entail working with Damascus to demonstrate the broader payoffs of a necessarily unfamiliar, and risky, journey.