Business Abroad: The New Mideast Money Man

In Beirut one morning a fortnight ago, curiosity seekers poured into the Phoenicia Hotel for opening-day glimpses of an unconventional attraction: a large, strikingly modern room resplendent with teakwood ceiling, Abyssinian peacock-wood paneling and a floor of peacock-blue carpeting. Marveling, the visitors ran eager hands over a milky terrazzo counter embedded with tiny pieces of brass to simulate marine life on an ocean bottom. Some of the visitors even opened an account. For though it looked for all the world like a cocktail lounge, the room was the newest branch of Lebanon's Intra Bank. "Nobody's wandered in and asked...

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