Lebanon: The Art & Adventure of Bartering

The prospect of dealing with the oil-rich Middle East brings visions of a thousand and one kinds of profit to many a Western businessman. In reality, the visions often become vicissitudes. Take, for example, the case of the jet planes and the apples.

Eighteen months ago, the U.S.'s Douglas and Boeing companies were invited, along with British Aircraft Corp., to take part in what seemed to be a simple sales competition: the winner would sell three jets to Lebanon's Middle East Airlines under a contract that would return around $40 million. That is pretty small stuff to the aircraft industry,...

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