Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Abdul Aziz al Ghurair, the Speaker of the Federal National Council, left, meets the Syrian president Bashar Assad.
Abdul Aziz al Ghurair, the Speaker of the Federal National Council, left, meets the Syrian president Bashar Assad.
Abdul Aziz al Ghurair, the Speaker of the Federal National Council, left, meets the Syrian president Bashar Assad.

Syria hints at readiness to relax limits on investments

Syria's president, Bashar Assad, pledges to 'personally' meet UAE investors to listen to their ideas about opening up business in Syria.

Syria's president, Bashar Assad, pledged yesterday that he would "personally" meet UAE investors to listen to their ideas about opening up business in Syria. During a 90-minute meeting with Abdul Aziz al Ghurair, the Speaker of the Federal National Council, the Syrian president underscored the importance of increased UAE investments in his country.

Mr al Ghurair, who concluded a two-day visit to Damascus yesterday, had complained on Sunday that the red tape associated with opening new businesses in Syria was time-consuming. The Syrian finance minister, Mohammed al Hussein, conceded to Mr al Ghurair that the procedures for registering foreign companies in his country were slow. Mr al Ghurair also met the prime minister, Mohammed Naji al Utri; and the foreign minister, Walid al Muallem.

Mr Assad's promise to meet investors face-to-face could make the procedures easier. During the visit, Mr al Ghurair discussed with top Syrian officials the idea of organising an investors' conference in Damascus in the coming months. He said the details of the gathering would be discussed next month during a meeting between Mr al Hussein and Sultan bin Saeed al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, as part of the UAE-Syrian joint economic committee meetings.

The conference is expected to give investors from the Emirates an opportunity to circumvent long procedures by proposing their ideas directly to the Syrian leaders. Mr al Ghurair voiced to the Syrian president the UAE's interest in starting ventures in the Arab republic, but some property laws were making investment unattractive, including one that prevents foreigners from bequeathing property. "The president said that it was being reconsidered," said Mr al Ghurair. "He said they're looking at the issue seriously."

Mr al Ghurair said easing such barriers would not only attract home buyers but also investors who would like to buy holiday homes as well as start projects. Syrian officials said the laws were originally designed to protect the local buyers against a flood of foreign buyers; the 1.5 million Iraqi and Palestinian refugees in Syria could cause a demographic imbalance if they were allowed to bequeath property.

It is unlikely the law will be annulled, but exceptions may be made for home owners from the Gulf states. Mr al Ghurair also discussed with Mr Assad the need to loosen the procedures associated with bringing Syrian workers to the UAE. He said that Syrian newspapers would not allow foreign investors to post employment advertisements at a time when job agencies are rare in Syria. "The president said that it would serve the interest of Syria and was surprised to hear that UAE employers were facing some difficulties in bringing in Syrian workers," said Mr al Ghurair.

During the meeting with the prime minister, Mr al Ghurair said that there were 100,000 Syrians working and living in the UAE, compared with 140,000 from Lebanon. The need to have an "open skies" policy between the two countries was also discussed. The policy refers to liberalising international aviation markets and minimising government intervention. "The president said that he supported such an idea as it brings the two countries closer," said the FNC Speaker. "With the presence of fast air transportation the trade between the two countries will enhance."


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Walter Zenga is one win away from claiming silverware for the first time in the UAE. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Walter Zenga seeks early retribution at Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup final

A victory over Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf Cup final will help prove the Italian has turned around the fortunes of the capital club.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National