Pilgrimage To Damascus International Fair

The large number of visitors to Damascus International Fair DIF has exceeded any expectation with a figure of 700 THOUSAND on its opening day. This huge turnout and the participation of 43 states in the Fair are a clear message to the whole world that the country has recovered and normal life has returned homeland.

 The image was well portrayed by Permanent Syrian Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari during a recent visit to the Fair. “Another message from outside the country into the inside that the international community, through the participation of more than 43 states, is ready to be a partner in the political, economic and military victory,” al-Jaafari said.

The fairgrounds has witnessed not only a large turnout of regular visitors, but as well of Syrian official delegations from all the ministries at their highest representation, Prime Minister Imad Khamis and most of cabinet members, in addition to ambassadors of some participating states and of course a large media covering from all over the world; Syriatimes, as the facade of Syria to the world being the only official Anglophone E-newspaper, was no exception.

The first impression when we entered the fairgrounds not as journalists but as Syrians was filled with emotions, proud, and tears; huge efforts have been exerted to reach this final version of “Syria Return”, as it is envisioned in every Syrian mind.

Syriatimes had the following interviews with some of the 59th DIF activities.

Our first stop was at the Egyptian pavilion, the largest pavilion after the Syrian one, where we met pavilion director, Mr. Khaled Esmail, who accentuated the historical Syrian-Egyptian mutual relations as brotherhood relations, defined the Egyptian participation in DIF as both political and economic, shedding light on the cooperation between Egyptian and Syrian commerce chambers to minimize obstacles.

 Mr. Esmail also clarified that Syrian investors, who have launched their business in Egypt during the war, have been given similar facilities as their Egyptian counterparts. He stressed the Syrian determination to make DIF a successful destination, acclaiming the joint exertions of the Syrian Fairs Establishment along with Egyptian government, represented by the Egyptian Embassy in Damascus and the Egyptian General Commission of Fairs and Conferences for the preparation of  the Egyptian participation in DIF within forty days, to overcome hurdles sentenced by a tight agenda with 43 state participation over an area of 74 thousand m².

Concerning the unprecedented turnout, Esmail declared that on DIF opening day the Egyptian pavilion witnessed an unexpected attendance that delayed closing hour from 11p.m to midnight, which is along other factors a big indicator that  Syria has entered recovery phase.   

Our second station was with the official participation of Venezuela through its embassy in Damascus, as being declared by the Venezuelan ambassador, Mr. Emad Saab, who also stressed that big government companies representing the Venezuelan government endeavor to play a big role in the reconstruction sector. However, the Venezuelan participation was not restricted to that, since their pavilion followed an original way of introducing the Venezuelan people culture through offering Venezuelan homemade sweets and touristic information about their fascinating country.

Regarding the events taking place in Venezuela lately, that are mimic to what was happening in Syria at the beginning of the war, and the possibility of taking the Syrian model as a template to treat the Venezuelan interior issue, Saab affirmed that possibility, stressing that Venezuela is suffering from interaction and effects of non-national opposition.

“In addition, we have distributed brochures, papers, magazines, and CDs to get the opportunity to inform the Syrian people about the real political situation in Venezuela” added Mr. Saab, who clearly expressed his pleasure regarding the Syrian people hospitality and big interactivity despite the war, praising the organization and the facilities offered by DIF managing department to the participating states and companies.

We had as well an interview with the Commercial Attaché at the Russian Embassy in Damascus Igor Matveyev, who affirmed Russia's special attention to the 59th Damascus International Fair after 6 years interruption as a clear proof of rebuilding Syria phase launch, taking into consideration the strategic relationship between both countries.

He clarified that the Russian pavilion is participating with 12 companies but other Russian companies, having talks with the Syrian government in the spheres of oil, gas, electronics, IT technology industries and even in  food and services industries, are accentuating their desire to introduce Russian companies willing to work in the Syrian markets, since unfortunately there are very few Russian companies working in Syria, according to the Russian pavilion manager, who aspired as well that in the 60th DIF there will be a larger representation of Russia, emphasizing that DIF is a clear sign and a general message to the whole world about rebuilding Syrian.

As for the internal participation of governmental administrations, we had to stop at the Syrian Investment Agency (SIA) which is the gate to foreign as well as Syrian investors to take part in the reconstruction process, officially launched in the DIF by promoting SIA products.

 According to Rima, Head of the SIA Promotion Department, more than 150 investment opportunities in all fields with their feasibility study and suitable sites ready were prepared to be exposed to investors who are willing to carry out investments in Syria, pointing out that information about these opportunities are available in both languages: Arabic and English through SIA website: http://sia.gov.sy/mainsia.php.

Rima accentuated the agency's policies from 2017 beginning in attracting external Syrian capital, through workshops exposing investment opportunities and offering facilities to attract them back to homeland. These policies also didn't forget the internal investors who have suffered from war effects and damage and offered counseling services and facilities for stumbling projects through a directorate specialized in projects follow-up.

Finally, as a result, our tour has ended without being able to cover all DIF activities, as all DIF visitors with their cheerfulness were drawn in every single movement from their smiles to the point of taking part in spontaneous folkloric dances as if we were in a collective festivity celebrating Syria Return to life , which is an indicator on the 59th  Damascus International Fair inclusiveness and exceptional session that will stick in the Syrian collective memory as a landmark that will pave the way for Syria recovery.

Reported by: Lama al-Hassanieh

Photos by Mahfouz Abu Hadier

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