Saudi Arabia to Allocate $800 Million of Loans for Least Developed Countries

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim during the fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha - SPA
Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim during the fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha - SPA
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Saudi Arabia to Allocate $800 Million of Loans for Least Developed Countries

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim during the fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha - SPA
Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim during the fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha - SPA

Saudi Arabia will allocate $800 million through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) to finance development projects for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in regions including Africa and Asia, Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadhil Al Ibrahim announced during the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha.

“Despite the developmental and social progress achieved over the past 50 years, fundamental challenges faced by Least Developed Countries remain and have become more complex and urgent — especially with the increased vulnerabilities faced by these countries,” Al Ibrahim said in his remarks.

“Through Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom has projects and initiatives that contribute to achieving economic prosperity, social well-being and environmental protection for all, in line with the Sustainable Development Agenda, he added.

"The Kingdom is also committed to supporting the least developed countries through helping them overcome challenges and working with the international community to push these countries towards progress and development.”

According to Al Ibrahim, Saudi Arabia had provided $96 billion in humanitarian and development aid to 167 countries in the last three decades.

Also, the SFD has provided 330 loans totaling $6.26 billion to LDCs from 1975 to 2022, financing 308 development projects and programs benefiting 35 countries.

Al Ibrahim noted that the Saudi Program for the Development and Reconstruction of Yemen (SPRDY), established by the Kingdom in 2018, has a strategy aimed at development plans in coordination with the Yemeni government and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

To date, the program has implemented 224 projects and initiatives worth $917 million, supporting the people of Yemen.

The Minister concluded by stating that the Kingdom will cooperate with international partners on initiatives to support the development and continue to play a leading role in all fields of development at regional and international levels to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.



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.