The company’s profit margins continue to be squeezed by its outstanding debts, which stood at $1,651 million on 30 June, although interest payments fell by 21 per cent on the previous year to $13.5 million. The company has also managed to reduce expenditure by 40 per cent since 1999.

Beirut has enjoyed a miniature real estate boom since 11 September last year, with tourists from the Gulf and neighbouring Arab states opting to take holidays closer to home. A number of hotel and residential developments are under development in the centre of the city, many of them financed by Gulf investors, and property prices have soared to over $5,000 a square metre. Two high-rise developments, the Beirut Four Seasons and Marina Towers, are planned next to the recently reclaimed Beirut marina, both of which are financed by Saudi investors. In late October, the UAE’s Habtoor Group announced plans to develop a $150 million, 33-storey residential development next to its existing Metropolitan Hotel in Sin al-Fil (MEED 6:9:02; 5:7:02).