As war rages in Syria, Dubai is already looking the future
The Chamber announced on Tuesday that it will host a conference entitled 'Partnership to invest in Future Syria’ under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 21 in Dubai.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that this move was made to boost and unify the efforts to support and rebuild Syria’s future and its economy.
“The conference will help combine the efforts of multiple international organisations tasked with developing the Syrian economy and rebuilding its infrastructure.”
He said: “Organising this conference is in line with the country’s role as co-chair of the Economic Recovery Working Group for Syria, which was established by the Friends of Syria Group with the mandate to support the development of the Syrian economy.”
This role highlights the positive and practical role the UAE plays in resolving important issues across the region, Shaikh Abdullah added.
Dr. Abdul Qader Al Sankari, President of the Syrian Business Council in Dubai, told Gulf News:
“Syrians are at the turning point and hosting this conference comes at the right time to lobby the international and Syrian communities to be ready to provide economic support outline policies and strategies on how to revive the economy in the post-Al Assad era.”
“Syrian should be pre-equipped with proper strategy to rebuild future Syria and would be able to fill the gap after the regime collapses.”
Despite the fact most of the basic services and infrastructure were collapsed, Al Sankari confirmed that if the Syrians unite, rebuilding new Syria won’t take a monumental international effort or generations to accomplish.
Aside from the human tragedy of the many lives lost in the war, there is the staggering damage to the country’s infrastructure, economy and cultural treasures which need an estimated over $100 billion to rebuild, Dr. Samir Al Taqi, Director of Orient Research Centre in Dubai told Gulf News.
“Currently, Al Assad regime has destroyed 70 per cent of Syria’s infrastructure, including the destruction of over 5,000 houses, 2,000 schools as well as a big number of hospitals, factories and public and private sector firms.”
He added that this conference will be very helpful in coming out with a clear vision about future Syria and finding solutions to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, state institutions and economic base, to allow the flow of investments into Syria at a later stage.
Hamad Buamim, Director General of Dubai Chamber, said: “This conference is a platform for networking between the people of Syria and investors from around the world and an opportunity to advance the Syrian economy and boost its future development.”
“The conference will contribute towards establishing global economic partnerships to help stimulate economic growth in Syria, while providing information on investment opportunities. It will also help develop partnerships between the public and private sectors.”
Khalid Ghanem Al Ghaith, UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs, also pointed out that the conference will explore the future needs of the Syrian economy while identifying priority areas.
Vital sources of revenue, such as tourism, have dried up, and much of the economic squeeze has hit low-level merchants and businesses.
The country’s currency has weakened. The price of basic foodstuffs and fuel has increased by much more, straining household budgets and leaving many parts of the country facing severe shortages.
US and European Union ban on oil imports are estimated to be costing Syria about $400 million a month.
This income was a key to maintaining the $17 billion in foreign currency reserves that the government had accumulated from a brief oil boom in the 1990s and maintained until last year. The government has not said what currency reserves it has left, but the London-based Economic Intelligence Unit estimates it to be a little more than $4.5 billion.