Gas Is Stronger Than Politics between Algeria, Spain

The Algerian president receives the Spanish Foreign Minister on September 30, 2021. (Algerian News Agency)
The Algerian president receives the Spanish Foreign Minister on September 30, 2021. (Algerian News Agency)
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Gas Is Stronger Than Politics between Algeria, Spain

The Algerian president receives the Spanish Foreign Minister on September 30, 2021. (Algerian News Agency)
The Algerian president receives the Spanish Foreign Minister on September 30, 2021. (Algerian News Agency)

Algerian gas topped Spain’s gas imports during the first quarter of 2024 despite a trade rift between Algiers and Madrid over the Sahara conflict.

According to a report on gas imports published by El Espanol newspaper, Algerian gas accounted for 42 percent of Spain’s gas imports during the past three months, while imports from Russia reached 25.7 percent, and 18.2 percent from the US, during the same period.

The newspaper relied on data published by Enagas, the leading Spanish company in the field of transporting natural gas from abroad, and the technical supervisor of energy systems in Spain.

The company explained that the rise in the quantities of gas imported from Algeria was the result of the increase in the pumping through the Medgas pipeline, which connects the city of Beni Saf, in western Algeria, to the city of Almeria in southern Spain.

According to a report by the company, the flow of Algerian gas to Spain via Medgas, between January and March, increased by 15.4 percent compared to the same period in 2023, when the quantity reached 25.8 terawatts.

Algeria topped the countries supplying energy to Spain throughout 2023, with coverage reaching 29.2 percent of the country’s needs, ahead of the United States, which came in second.

Algeria had frozen foreign trade operations of products and services with Spain from June 2022 following an announcement by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez that his country was siding with the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara.

Algeria strongly supports Polisario’s efforts to establish a Sahrawi state, causing a yearslong rift between Algiers and Rabat.

However, Algiers excluded gas from the decision to stop trade with Spain, as the two countries are bound by long-term energy contracts and any violation of these agreements would have resulted in the case being referred to international arbitration.



Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The surge in visitors to Lebanon during Eid al-Adha and high demand for summer concert bookings are boosting hopes for a revival in tourism.

This sector is crucial for reigniting positive economic growth after about nine months of challenging conditions due to the Gaza war and subsequent border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon.

Contrary to earlier fears this month of possible Israeli strikes inside Lebanon, Ali Hamieh, caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport, reported a daily average of 14,000 arrivals at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, with numbers on the rise.

Jean Abboud, President of the Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, confirmed that despite initial concerns, booking rates have bounced back to 90-95% after Israeli threats of a mid-month strike. Most arrivals are Lebanese expatriates and foreign workers.

Before the summer season’s anticipated surge, Lebanon saw a 5.37% decrease in arrivals, with air traffic down by 9.34% and passenger numbers at Beirut International Airport dropping by 6.84% in the first five months of this year, totaling 2.29 million travelers compared to 2.46 million last year.

These declines were linked to the border clashes.

Lebanon’s tourism sector, generating over $5 billion annually in recent years, ranks as the country’s second most vital revenue stream after expatriate remittances, which officially approach $7 billion.

Together, they contribute more than half of Lebanon’s national income, which has dropped sharply from about $55 billion to under $22 billion due to the ongoing financial and currency crises that erupted five years ago.

Despite significant losses during peak tourism seasons like Christmas, Easter, and Eid al-Fitr, a report by Bank Audi indicated that Lebanon’s tourism revenues lost over $1 billion in the first six months of the Gaza conflict, driven by a 24% drop in tourist arrivals.

On average, tourists spend around $3,000 during their stay in Lebanon.