In this Monday Aug. 20, 2018, photo, a restaurant offers a 30 percent discount in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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Ahmad Harb opened his perfume shop on the main street of Beirut's commercial Hamra district 35 years ago, and his business has weathered security and political crises in this volatile country, including a civil war.Nearly four months after Lebanon held its first general elections in nine years, politicians are still squabbling over the formation of a new government amid uncertainty over a long stagnating economy, struggling businesses and concerns over the currency.Years of regional turmoil – worsened by an influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees since 2011 – are catching up with the tiny, corruption-plagued Arab country. Lebanon has the third highest debt rate in the world, currently standing at about $81 billion, or 152 percent of the gross domestic product. In the absence of a new government, Lebanon has been unable to access billions of dollars pledged by foreign donors for foreign investment in infrastructure and other projects.Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who has lobbied Western governments for assistance, is bogged down with the details of forming a government and divisions among politicians over whether Lebanon should resume normal contacts with Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
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