Category Archives: Middle East

How Is Lebanon Improving Its Transportation Systems?

How Is Lebanon Improving Its Transportation Systems?

Lebanon has a network of roads extending beyond 7,000 kilometers. However, because of a lack of funding, they are falling into decline. Many aging roads are simply not being maintained and others remain severely damaged from the nation’s 15-year civil war. Its railway system was also greatly affected by the conflict. What was once a network of 408 kilometers of track connecting Beirut to Damascus, Syria, is a now a just a collection of rusted locomotives and run-down station buildings. The influx of approximately 1.5 million refugees from Syria in recent years has only added to the strain on Lebanon’s transportation systems, leading to severe traffic congestion—particularly in the nation’s capital of Beirut—and costing the nation billions in lost productivity.

Read on to learn more about these problems and how Lebanon is addressing them.

 

Lack of Investment

The Lebanese economy struggled in the aftermath of the civil war. However, the government couldn’t make any significant investments to support the economy because it had a hard time passing any major policy decisions. Further, many investors feared doing business in a country rife with daily power outages, water shortages, poor communication networks, and insufficient transportation systems.

In 2010, the Lebanese economy and trade minister announced that the country needed at least $20 billion worth of basic improvements to water, electricity, communications, and transportation infrastructure, in order to catch up with recent population growth and maintain its economy. This figure, which amounts to nearly half of the nation’s current GDP, only addressed the reality at that time and didn’t account for future expansion.

Consequently, the government planned to set aside approximately $4 billion for infrastructure investment over the next two years, including $1.3 billion to expand its electricity and water networks and roughly $400 million to improve its roads. While improvements haven’t been completed as quickly as many had hoped, a 2013 report detailed a $30 million program coordinated through the World Bank that resulted in the rehabilitation of 175 kilometers of roads benefiting 178 municipalities.

 

transportation

 

Refugee-Related Support

In 2017, representatives from 70 national delegations announced a combined donation of $6 billion for countries hosting Syrian refugees, but Nadim Munla, the adviser on Syrian refugees to Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, announced the country required upwards of $12 billion in investments over the next seven years just to meet basic infrastructure demands generated by the refugees.

“The Council of Development and Reconstruction is working on a master plan for the needs of Lebanon and we will send this report to the international community, World Bank and other international banks to obtain long-term loans with a 1.4 percent interest only,” he said.

In April 2018, the United Kingdom approved a £40 million package to boost economic development and improve infrastructure in Lebanon as it continues to take in Syrian refugees. The money will fund grants to create jobs, deliver important infrastructure projects, and boost the country’s small business sector.

 

World Bank Support

In March 2018, Lebanon received good news regarding its roads network as the World Bank approved a $295 million loan package to facilitate the overhaul of the country’s decaying transport sector and, in turn, provide employment for thousands of unskilled workers in the region. The Greater Beirut Public Transport Project (GBPTP) will serve as Lebanon’s first comprehensive public transport system in decades, significantly easing congestion on major roads and highways in the country.

“Poor transport connectivity exacerbates the already problematic inequitable growth between Beirut and hinterland regions. It hinders access to employment and services for the poor and other vulnerable groups,” explained World Bank Regional Director for the Mashreq Saroj Kumar Jha, noting that the investment is in line with the World Bank’s Maximizing Financing for Development initiative.

The government expects the GBPTP to cut the commuting time between Beirut and its northern suburbs in half for approximately 300,000 passengers each day. Additionally, a total of 120 environmentally-friendly buses will service 40 kilometers of bus-only highway lanes, while an additional 250 feeder buses will supplement the public transport system.

 

Continued Support from the International Community

In April, Lebanon secured $11 billion in loans and grants from international partners to fund not only transportation infrastructure projects, but also improvements to waste-water plants and power grids. The announcement was made at the CEDRE Conference in Paris and supported by French President Emmanuel Macron, who stated, “At a time when the Levant probably lives one of the worst moments of its history … it’s more important than ever to preserve the most precious asset: a peaceful, diverse and harmonious Lebanon.”

While some among the international community have concerns in regard to how Lebanon will use the money, the World Bank, in particular, maintains great confidence in the country’s government. “The reason we are confident is because the government over the last month has shown determination that we have not seen in past years,” said World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. “They have passed very important laws. They are pursuing procurement reform and they are putting forward an anti-corruption law with a strong backing from the people of Lebanon.”

4 Ongoing Mega Projects in Turkey You Need to Know About

4 Ongoing Mega Projects in Turkey You Need to Know About

Since the turn of the 21st century, Turkey has made substantial investments in ambitious infrastructure projects, and that trend is going to continue beyond 2018. In the past decade and a half alone, the Middle Eastern country has spent nearly $100 billion to construct new roadways, tunnels, airports, bridges, and railways in an effort to… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about Qatar’s $22 Billion Expressway Project

What You Need to Know about Qatar’s $22 Billion Expressway Project

Qatar has been busy implementing widespread infrastructure projects across a variety of sectors. As the designated host country for the 2020 FIFA World Cup, the nation is building a number of new stadiums as well as local roads and expressways. One of the most important of these projects is the Qatar Expressway Project. At a… Continue Reading

4 Planned City Projects in Kuwait You Need to Know About

4 Planned City Projects in Kuwait You Need to Know About

In an effort to drive economic development and keep up with rising demand for public housing, the Kuwait government placed large-scale infrastructure projects at the forefront of its five-year plan beginning in 2015. Less than 20 percent of development projects were executed in the previous five-year plan, but the current plan promises the completion of… Continue Reading

Everything You Need to Know about 5G in the Middle East

Everything You Need to Know about 5G in the Middle East

Gradual improvements in technology have helped connect communities around the world and allowed for easy access to resources that were previously unavailable. Smartphones and digital device technology have especially improved at a rapid rate, with increased capabilities and the development of life-changing applications. As such, the mobile networks on which those devices are connected have… Continue Reading

Al-Maktoum International Airport’s Expansion – What You Need to Know

Al-Maktoum International Airport’s Expansion – What You Need to Know

More than 90 million passengers traveled to and from Dubai’s two international airports—Al-Maktoum International Airport and Dubai International Airport—in 2017. The number is expected to rise significantly in the near future due in part to the continued expansion of Al-Maktoum International. Here are a few important things you need to know in regards to Al-Maktoum… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

What You Need to Know about Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi is a burgeoning hub for infrastructure development. Recently, the city earned the TomTom International Award for World’s Best City in Developing Infrastructures Related to Traffic Management. Core infrastructure projects are ongoing throughout Abu Dhabi and have the potential to boost the city’s economy, but one large-scale resort… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about the Riyadh Metro Project

What You Need to Know about the Riyadh Metro Project

Despite being home to more than 6 million citizens, the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh lacks a major public transportation system. However, that won’t be the case by early 2019, as the Riyadh Metro Project is expected to be completed by then and, in turn, expected to significantly alleviate traffic congestion on the city’s streets.… Continue Reading

Spotlight – Egypt’s Wonderful New City of the Future

Spotlight – Egypt’s Wonderful New City of the Future

The most-populated city in Egypt, Cairo serves as the country’s administrative and financial capital, but this won’t be the case for much longer. In March 2015, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced plans to develop a New Administrative Capital, which will stress sustainability, place emphasis on technology in design, ecology, and culture practices, and alleviate national… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know About the Billion-Dollar CASA-1000 Project

What You Need to Know About the Billion-Dollar CASA-1000 Project

A sufficient source of electricity is a vital aspect of modern societies and instrumental in job creation and economic growth. Afghanistan and nearby countries have growing populations, but their potential for further development is inhibited by the shared problem of a lack of electricity. Because of this, many citizens are forced to endure scorching-hot summers… Continue Reading