While the banking sector remains the backbone of Lebanon's struggling economy, the country's biggest banks are getting an increasing share of their earnings from international operations throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Little Lebanon is just too small to satisfy the ambitions of its big banks, which are following Lebanese nationals as they travel throughout the region in search of jobs. While last year's rise in gross domestic product was little more than 2%, the country's banks enjoyed a strong rise in profitability. Lebanon's banking sector, with assets equivalent to about 400% of gross domestic product, plays a key role in financing the government, as well as the private sector, and in supporting the country's stable exchange-rate policy. With Middle East banking assets soaring along with the price of oil, Bank Audi favors such areas as private banking and asset management. Meanwhile, Bank Audi plans to focus on niche markets in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which together account for 50% of the total Arab population and of the Arab world's consolidated gross domestic product.
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