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L. Joseph
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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 21, 1998 -- The International Finance Corporation will provide financing of up to US$11.5 million to Lebanon’s Idarat Investment Corporation to help it develop two hotels and four restaurants in Lebanon.

Before the outbreak of the war in 1975, tourism was a flourishing industry in Lebanon, accounting for 20 percent of GDP.  The war heavily damaged the tourism industry, especially quality hotels in Beirut’s hotel district. Today, tourism represents only 7 percent of GDP but is picking up, under Lebanon’s reconstruction program.

Idarat is a diversified tourism company holding interests in several hotels and restaurants in Lebanon.  Since its creation in the late 1980s, Idarat has grown substantially to become the prime provider of tourism facilities in the country.

IFC’s financing consists of an equity investment of US$1.5 million and a loan for IFC’s account of US$10 million.  The financing will allow Idarat to expand and sustain the high growth it has experienced in the past few years.

Mr. Mohsen Khalil, IFC’s Director for Central Asia, Middle East, and North Africa, said at the signing in Washington that IFC’s financing would provide much-needed long-term funding, which is crucial to the rehabilitation of this capital-intensive sector.  He added that Idarat has demonstrated the ability to provide high quality and innovative services in the hospitality industry.

IFC, part of the World Bank Group, fosters economic growth in the developing world by financing private sector investments, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.