A bench near the Tripoli Corniche made by students participating in the UNIDO vocational training. (The Daily Star/UNIDO, HO)
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Jihad Toros' small furniture-making workshop, tucked away on a narrow street in Tripoli's Zahriyeh neighborhood, is one of the longtime stalwarts of the city's famed woodworking industry. The shop, opened in 1952, has five employees overseen by Toros and his father, with Toros' 9-year-old son sometimes lending a hand.It's a common refrain among small furniture producers in Tripoli and surrounding areas.The furniture sector is both a long-standing tradition in Lebanon's second-largest city and an important source of employment. Furniture firms account for 19 percent of industry in north Lebanon, according to a recent report by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon, making it the second-largest after the food and beverage sector.In Alayan Furniture, another longtime family-run business in nearby Mina, proprietor Osama Alayan said the shop once had 30 or 40 employees, but now that number is down to 10 .The project also gave equipment and training to 25 furniture shops in north Lebanon.Few have managed to break into foreign markets: Furniture products constitute only about 2 percent of Lebanon's foreign exports, the report said.
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