First Published: 2017-08-15

Damascus International Fair back after 5-year absence
Oldest trade fair in Arab world opens Thursday with western companies among participants from 23 countries.
Middle East Online

The fair will run for 10 days

DAMASCUS - The Damascus International Fair, the top event on pre-war Syria's economic calendar, is making a comeback this week after a five-year absence with western companies among participants from 23 countries.

Organisers say firms from Britain, France and Germany will exhibit their goods and services in a private capacity, with their countries having severed relations with President Bashar al-Assad's Syria.

"Countries with a hostile attitude towards Syria have not been invited," Fares al-Kartally, the fair's general director, said.

"But at the same time we've not expressed reservations over any company expressing an interest in taking part in the fair either directly or through Syrian mediators," he said, without naming them.

The Damascus trade fair, which dates back to 1954, making it the oldest in the Arab world, opens on Thursday and runs for 10 days.

Its comeback has been made possible by "the return of calm and stability in most regions" of Syria, said Kartally. "We want this fair to signal the start of (the country's) reconstruction."

The fair was last staged in the summer of 2011, just months after the outbreak of Syria's conflict, which the World Bank estimates has cost the Arab state as much as $226 billion in losses, or four times its annual pre-war GDP.

Around 1,500 delegates are expected to attend, with 49 pavilions for different sectors ranging from the textile industry which was a mainstay of the Syrian economy before the war but has since been decimated, to the agricultural sector, according to organisers.

 

Kurds ready for contentious vote in Iraq

The high cost of Syria’s destruction

Iran defies US, tests missile

Yemen's Hadi says military solution 'most likely'

The Sahara Forest Project, Jordan’s innovative water scheme

Palestinian negotiator awaits lung transplant in US

A Kurdish state: Reality or utopia?

Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Saudi Arabia marks national day with fireworks, concerts

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Barzani delays Kurdish independence vote announcement

Syria's war off the radar at UN assembly

For many Iraqis, tradition trumps police

Darfur clashes kill 3 as Bashir urges reconciliation

Saudi cleric banned for saying women have ‘quarter’ brain

Veteran Syrian activist, daughter assassinated in Istanbul

Tunisia drops forced anal exams for homosexuality

Bomb used in Saudi-led strike on Yemen children US-made

Syria Kurds vote to cement federal push

Police charge teenager over London Underground attack

Nigerian official to meet Turkish counterpart over illegal guns

Thousands feared trapped in Raqa as IS mounts last stand

Iraqi forces achieve first step in new offensive on IS

Migrant boat sinks off Turkish Black Sea coast leaving four dead, 20 missing

Trump praises 'friend' Erdogan

Yemen leader promises UN to open entire country to aid

Rouhani vows Iran will boost missiles despite US criticism

Russia clashes with EU over Syria

UN Security Council warns against holding Iraqi Kurd vote

UN sets up probe of IS war crimes in Iraq

US, Iranian top diplomats confront each other for first time

Air strikes kill 22 civilians in northwest Syria in 48 hours

Iranian supreme leader lashes out at Trump UN speech

Thousands of Huthi supporters mark 3 years since Sanaa takeover

Iraq attacks all remaining IS territory at once

Moscow accuses US of hitting Syrian regime forces

Turkey jails lawyers representing hunger striking teachers

Turkey, Iran and Iraq make joint threat against Kurd vote

Syrian Kurds to hold first local elections in federal push

Qatari expats lauded as statesmen by Arab critics

Shipwreck off Libyan coast leaves over 100 migrants missing

Will Turkey’s opposition to Kurdish state translate into action?

US ups the ante on Iraq Kurds

Macron: Iran nuclear deal no longer enough

Trump’s mind made up on Iran but refuses to divulge