From right, Fletcher, Salameh, Bassil and Choukeir attend a conference in Beirut, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Khalil Hassan)
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British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher unveiled a plan Thursday initiated by the British Embassy to support a U.K.-Lebanon technology "hub," a private sector initiative to be launched in January 2015 with the support of Lebanon's Central Bank.The initiative will be supported by both the Lebanese Central Bank and the U.K. government.Fletcher said that the U.K.'s interest in Lebanon stemmed from the fact that the country was the Middle East's digital pioneer.Fletcher believes that startups are resilient to difficult circumstances. Circular No. 331, which was issued by the Central Bank in August 2013, encourages commercial banks to invest in startups.The Central Bank will guarantee up to 75 percent of the value of these commercial bank investments in the capital of startups that meet the determined criteria. Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said his institution was keen on creating synergy between the financial sector and the new knowledge economy sector. He added that this was why the Central Bank had committed to providing guarantees to banks that invest in startups or in funds specialized in investing in startups.
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