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BEIRUT-The cranes on Beirut’s skyline have been halted since Israel launched its attack on Hezbollah posts in Lebanon and now concern is mounting over the future of billions of dollars worth of real estate investment in the country.

The 11 major construction projects in the pipeline for Beirut Central District (BCD) are on hold and an advisor to a regional developer with projects throughout the region says his investors were deeply concerned but he adds that he has no plans to abandon the projects.

The impact of Israel’s military campaign on the country’s credibility with foreign investors, especially from the Gulf, remains to be seen. Figures released earlier this year by the Lebanese government showed the Gulf investment was a major factor in a 88% increase in the value of property transactions in Beirut since 2001. Foreign direct investment accounted for 10% of GDP in 2005.

But the future of these investments will depend on how long the Israeli bombing campaign continues and how long it will take to rebuild Lebanon’s shattered infrastructure. Analysts estimate that already there is more than $2 billion worth of infrastructure damage in Lebanon.Last night, Arab television stations reported that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has ordered the transfer of $1 billion to Lebanon’s central bank to help it support the economy. In addition, he ordered another $500-million donation to rebuild the infrastructure. Saudi state television said the money would be “deposited” with the Lebanese central bank.

Saudi Arabia has played a key role in supporting the Lebanese pound since 1990, and billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is one of Lebanon’s major foreign investors. Lebanon’s late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who had led reconstruction efforts in the country, was also a Saudi national.

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