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Cash strapped Lebanon splashes out on new airport terminal

The interim minister for transport and public works of Lebanon estimates that Terminal 2 will create 500 direct employment and 2,000 indirect jobs as part of the airport's first expansion since 1998.

Despite facing one of the worst economic crises in the world, Lebanon will construct a $122 million terminal at Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport, officials are reported saying. Upon its completion in four years time it will be operated by a leading Irish airport company.

Caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport Ali Hamie is reported saying that the terminal will bring in private sector investments worth $122 million and will handle 3.5 million passengers annually when operations begin in 2027. The airport currently handles eight million passengers a year, and the plans are to reach 20 million in 2030.

READ: Action needed or 14% more children will face crisis hunger levels, charity says

"The project opens more horizons for air aviation between Lebanon and the world," caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati is reported saying in the Arab News. He added that it will help in solving several problems, including crowding at the current terminal. The project is expected to create 500 jobs directly related to the extension and 2,000 other jobs.

A ceremony was held in Beirut on Monday where Ireland's Minister of State James Browne was in attendance. He was quoted in a statement released by the Lebanese prime minister's office as saying that the contract signed will deepen business relations between the two countries.

Revelations about the $122 million airport extension project come as Lebanon's economy goes from bad to worse. Last year the World Bank said that Lebanon's crisis is among the three worst crises in the world.

This week the Lebanese pound, or lira, sank to a new low, worsening conditions for people already struggling to cope with Lebanon's unprecedented economic crisis. The crisis has degraded the quality of public services. The country's public schools have been closed for the past three months as teachers strike because of unprecedented cost of living crises. Their salaries are no longer sufficient to pay for basic needs. On Tuesday more than 15 per cent of the value of the currency was lost in one day.

Several hundred protesters, including army retirees and angry depositors, gathered in front of the country's parliament yesterday to speak out against the deteriorating living conditions. The protests grew tense as security forces dispersed crowds with tear gas.

READ: Hundreds protest poor living conditions

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