Country Manager, Microsoft
The goal of Microsoft is to create strong partnerships. We have around 200 partners in different segments, from those that sell to large companies to channel distributors that cater to medium and small-sized clients. Additionally, we have many partners who are experts in solutions and particular technologies that deliver specific services to clients. Our efforts open new opportunities and possibilities for these partners, generating more jobs and employment. The other side of our contribution is what we bring from Lebanon to the international organization. Microsoft Lebanon is a great source of talent within MENA. One of the company’s strategies is to hire right after graduation to have a young pool of new recruits. We start recruiting them when they are finishing their undergraduate programs in computer science and engineering, business, and MBAs. We get them through a training process, then through an accelerated path. We hope we can contribute further to the development of the country by increasing employability and empowering the public sector.
Citi Lebanon was the first Citi branch to open in the Middle East back in 1955; although we closed in 1987 due to the civil war, we reopened in early 1996. Citi’s presence in Lebanon is part of our global footprint, which nearly reaches 100 countries. Our presence in Lebanon is part of our Institutional Client Group (ICG) focusing on our target market relationships. Secondly, we support Lebanese companies that want to expand regionally into places like Africa, the Gulf, or Europe, where Citi has an extensive country presence. This has an important impact because a lot of companies have outgrown the economy in Lebanon, so for them to be able to continue growing they must expand abroad. Thirdly, Citi is a major correspondent for the largest banks in Lebanon and gives them access to international markets. Fourth, Citi has acted as lead manager on a multitude of bond issuances for the Government of the Lebanese Republic, most recently for USD3.8 billion in 2015.
General Manager, Chadi Houkayem
Allianz SNA is 54 years old and now the number-one company in Lebanon for life and non-life insurance. We have a balanced portfolio with 50% in the former and 50% in the latter. We consistently exceed our objectives and the level of growth in the market here. Overall we are happy with the performance of Allianz SNA, our leading position in the market, and our profitability. We offer all lines of products for both corporate and retail customer segments through multi-distribution channels. We also have our own sales force, working with a large number of brokers as well as with banks and through the internet. Our strategy is to be accessible in all the ways our customers want to interact with us. In terms of the importance of the region to the Allianz Group, there are three main markets for us in the Middle East region. Lebanon is one, and the other two are Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
MENA CEO, Allianz SNA
Technology and innovation are a major focus for Maersk and have also been included in the line’s strategy. Digitalization is a big word for Maersk now and is where the company is moving. In general, the industry is behind on this part when we consider shipping lines, which are relatively traditional and far behind. For Maersk, we are a few steps ahead of any other line in terms of digitalization. However, the plan includes the consideration that we are still at the beginning of our roadmap. Eventually we have to think about the future, which does include digitalization. As for the port, considering Lebanon’s market size, the Beirut Port is capable of meeting the demand. There were plans to extend the terminal; however, the project did not go through for several reasons. We might face some challenges in terms of terminal capacity, especially when things start moving in Syria, which will definitely demand a lot of cargo coming in.
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