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Head of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Tourism talks about the tourism sector in Syria

Mr. Mohammad Khadour, Head of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Tourism and the Regional Director of Asafir Hotels speaks to Syria Times on the Federation’s activities and the tourism sector in Syria in general and Homs in particular.

Following is the full text of the interview conducted with Mr. Khadour in the Asafir Hotel in Homs city.

Can you tell our readers about your profile?

I am Mohammad Khadour, the Head of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Tourism and the Regional Director of Safir Hotels. I started my work in the tourism industry in February 1977 at Le Meridien Hotel in Damascus (Currently its name Dama Rose Damascus) when I was a student at the Damascus University’s Faculty of Geography. I was studying and working at the same time. I graduated in 1981 and kept working at Le Meridien in different positions and sections. Then, I became a manager of section in it.

In August 1982, I moved to be the Director of Safir Hotel in Homs.

In 2008, I became the Regional Director of Safir Hotels, including Safir Homs, SafirMaalula, and Safir Zainab. I became a representative for the Safir Company’s investments.

In June 2016, I was elected to be the Head of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Tourism.

What is your plan to activate the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Tourism? 

I believe in public works and helping society and hope to activate and improve the Federation’s eight chambers in Syria. There are eight chambers:

1-Damascus Chamber
2- Damascus Rural Chamber
3- Lattakia Chamber
4- Tartous Chamber
5- the Eastern Chamber: Raqqa, Deir Ezzour and Hassaka
6-the Northern Chambe: Aleppo and Idlib
7- the Middle Chamber: Homs and Hama
8- the Southern Chamber: Daraa, Sweida and Queintra

I am proud of what happened in Aleppo. The owners of tourist projects in Aleppo have done a great job and have exerted efforts to rebuild their investments, hotels and restaurants.

I and other members of Federation’s Board of Council work hard to improve tourism industry in Syria and help the owners of tourist projects and hotels overcome the results of ongoing sanctions, unfair war against Syria and the embargo of flights to and from Syria.

I am very concern to help and support all Syrian tourism facilities’ owners to rebuild their demolished facilities. The Minister of Tourism Eng. Mohammad Rami Radwan Martini urged to support and help the owners of tourism facilities and enterprises to get loans from the government banks to rebuild their hotels, restaurants and establishments. The Federation and Ministry are ready to help them and I personally met with the owners of tourism facilities and enterprises to discuss how to solve their problems.

How has the terror war against Syria affected tourism industry?

The terrorist groups attacked directly the tourist and archeological sites under different fake pretexts. They were calling these places as ‘debauchery places’ to justify their attacks and threats. They were sending direct threats and warns to the owners of tourism facilities.

The terrorist groups attacked five times Safir Homs Hotel. We changed the Hotel’s glasses and windows five times because of mortars attacks and explosions. One employee of the Hotel was martyred, and other two were employees plus security man were kidnapped. I personally was shot directly two times and God saved me.

How do the Federation’s activities being held abroad represent the Syrian tourism industry?

In cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, the Federation’s head and members participated in different international tourism activities in Spain, Italy and the UAE. Recently, we participated in the ‘Arab Travel Market’ Exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates held in April 2019.
These activities, conferences and exhibitions are opportunities for Syrian participants to invite and encourage businessmen, investors and economic actors to visit Syria and participate in the tourism industry and sector in Syria.

We, the Syrian delegation, could break the embargo being imposed on the Syrian tourism sector.

I visited Italy on November 15-18 ,2018 to participate in the Mediterranean Forum on Archeological cities Tourism, which was held in the Italian city of Pastum. I felt that Italians were very interested in the Syrian cultural tourism and sympathized with the Syrian delegation.

I visited Russia in November 2018 and met with Russian officials in the field of tourism to discuss the means of encouraging the Russian tourists to Syria. I made a presentation and gave the Russians ideas about the archeological, culture and religious tourist sites in Ma’arrat Saydnaya, Ma’alula and others. Russians consider Syria as a holy land and they like to visit the Orthodox old churches and sites.

What is your role as the Head of the Social Communication Committee in Homs Province?

We are about 33 social figures, religious figures, tribal leaders and chiefs represent all social fabric and sects of Homs city and province.

We started talking and meeting with social activities and figures in Homs’ districts when the events erupted in Homs in early 2011.

We met with armed groups to reach national reconciliations and settlements in different parts of Homs province.

I personally met with leaders of armed groups and could convince them to reach settlements in cooperation with the Syrian government.

Now, our Committee’s members are discussing with the Rukban Camp’s refugees how to ease their return to their hometowns safely.

I understand that many of Syrian citizens were misled and made a mistake and we should help them to return to the right path.

The people of Homs could successfully overcome- with their wisdom- the crisis in Homs city and avoid the city a civil war.

Interviewed by:
Obaida Mohammad
Inas Abdul Kareem

Women in Business Conference Provides Chance for Women to Share Experience, Boost Business Partnership

Under the Patronage of Labor and Social Affairs Minister Rima Al-Qadiri, deliberations of the Women in Business Conference( When She Leads)  kicked off yesterday at the La Mira Resort in Lattakia province in the presence of Egypt’s Ambassador in Syria Mohamed Thrawat Salim, Directors of Culture, Tourism, Labor and Social Affairs  in Lattakia, a number of local and Arab businesswomen as well as other political and economic concerned bodies.

The two- days event is organized by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) in Lattakia  in cooperation with  the Modernizing and Activating Women’s Role in Economic Development (MAWRED) society.

Women in Business Conference "When She Leads" to Open in Lattakia on June 29th

Under the patronage of  Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mrs. Rima Qadiri, the Junior Chamber  International (JCI)  in Lattakia province and the Modernizing and Activating Women’s Role in Economic Development ( MAWRED)  Society will hold the Women in Business Conference ( When She Leads) on 29th of June at the La Mira Resort in Lattakia province.

A group of Syrian women with effective economic role in the Syrian society in addition to another group of women who are hopeful to join the world of business will take part in the two-days event.

The conference will include delivering specialized lectures on ensuring Syrian women’s entry into the business world in a more professional way to invest in small, medium-sized and big projects, on creating environment for communication among women as to share experiences and information and on encouraging economic partnerships and cooperation.

Syrian Computer Society, JCI in Lattakia Hold Exhibition for Young Innovators' Projects in Alternative Energy

A wide range of innovations in alternative energy were showcased in an exhibition recently  held at the National Museum in Lattakia province by the Junior Chamber International ( JCI) in cooperation by the Lattakia’s branch of the Syrian Computer Society (SCS).

Shedding light on the exhibition, the Syriatimes e-newspaper interviewed Head of the Lattakia’s branch of the SCS, Eng. Mariam Fayoud who said “this exhibition comes within the framework of the alternative energy systems project "Switch" launched earlier  by the SCS  in cooperation by the JCI to raise awareness about the alternative energy systems different  uses especially under the current circumstances, as well as to encourage youths to innovate".

She stressed that the exhibition seeks to enhance cooperation between economic activities and young innovators with the hope of adopting pioneering projects.

Social and Medical Services Provided by Homs Chamber of Commerce

Homs, (ST)- During the past five years, Homs Chamber of Commerce has translated its practical objectives into reality through several steps, according to Dr. Abdel Nasser Sheikh Fattouh, Head of the Chamber, in terms of the social services provided to the Chamber's members through the establishment of the Medical Fund , the Pension Fund and the Donation Fund , as well as supporting the war-wounded funds and the families of the martyrs, reviving the development and training center, working on rehabilitating the commercial markets in the city center and distributing income-generating equipment.
"Concerning the Medical Fund, the Chamber has signed a protocol of medical cooperation with al- Birr Association and its affiliated social services and hospitals , so that the association and its hospitals will deduct 20% for all surgical operations and hospitalization in general, radiography and surgical analysis to each person holds the Chamber of Commerce card provided that the chamber will rehabilitate the (heart disease) department in the association 's hospital which is located in Al-Wa'er region with an estimated cost of 22.5 million Syrian pounds paid from the chamber savings . In addition, members of the Chamber are entitled to receive 10% free of charge from all the contracts signed with international organizations," Sheikh Fattouh added.
12 million Syrian pounds for martyrs and war wounded
Regarding the donation fund allocated to the families of martyrs and war wounded, Dr. Fattouh clarified that 60% of the fees paid by traders goes to the Foundation of the families of martyrs and war wounded in Homs and the other 40% goes to the Central Institution in Damascus. The transferred amounts reached more than 12 million Syrian pounds last year.
In addition to the donation made by the Chamber to the newspapers and periodicals, especially those interested in economic and commercial affairs, financing the printing of cultural and historical books interested in Homs governorate and spreading historical awareness of its human and geographical components, as well as reviving the Development and Training Center in the chamber, where we dedicated a floor with all its requirements and necessary equipment for carrying out professional courses in management, accounting and information in addition to other training courses for foreign languages and developing personal skills. We have also established an employment center by providing information that connects job seekers and the private institutions which need employees. Thus, the chamber provides employment opportunities by linking job seekers with institutions that fit their qualifications.
Rehabilitation of commercial markets in the city center
Dr. Fattouh believes that the most important work done by the Chamber is the rehabilitation of the commercial markets in the city center stressing that after the liberation of Homs and its commercial center, the Chamber began contacting the international organizations and local government institutions to work on rehabilitating markets and re-establishing the commercial center. A work group of volunteers from university students working under the sponsorship of the chamber, that gave them support and place to continue the work ,which is an engineering survey of the streets, shops and squares of the commercial markets and tabulating them within statistical tables including the shops of each street and the names of owners and the quality of their work and the extent of damage in each store or shop , so as to serve as a complete database required for each entity that wants to work on the rehabilitation of these markets.
He added that these data have helped organizations and associations to provide all that is needed for those affected traders. Thus, work began after the signing of a protocol between the Chamber and the UNDP to remove more than 70.000 Cubic meters of rubble from the streets.
Income-generating equipment has been distributed first to 38 shops in Hamidiya Street and then to 130 other shops in the market of vegetables, (Souk Al-Hashish).
"We also worked on installing doors and shelves, repairing walls, distributing refrigerators, freezers, meat and chickens chopping machines. We are now awaiting the arrival of other equipment from the donor organization to be presented to 130 other professions," he made it clear.
"since the beginning of the work , a committee has been formed comprising members representing the Chamber of Commerce, the Governorate, the City Council , the Electricity and Water Company, the Engineers Union, the Directorate of Antiquities and Sanitation Directorate so to achieve integration in the rehabilitation of markets and the installation of iron roofs on the basis of preserving its heritage as well as highlighting its engineering structure", Dr. Fattouh concluded .

Amal Farhat- Homs

Innovative Abilities of Syrian University Students Reflected in Their Projects

"University students’ inventive projects are of great importance to show how students manage to benefit from their academic and theoretical study to prepare their own projects” Dr. Lamis Qudsi Head of the Bio-Medical Engineering Department at Tishreen University in Lattakia province said in a statement to the Syriatimes e-newspaper.

Dr. Qudsi, who was also the supervisor of a number of university students’ projects displayed in the Mechanical and Electrical Exhibition MEE6 recently held at Tishreen University, underscored that most of the projects exhibited in the MEE6 can enter the business market, contribute to  promoting the national industries and take part effectively in the reconstruction process.

When Syrian Students Create and Achieve Intellectual Excellence

(ST)-A large number of important creative projects in the field of IT, mechanic, electricity, electronics and communication have been displayed through the 6th Mechanical and Electrical Exhibition (MEE6) which has been recently held at the Central Library of Tishreen University in Lattakia.
Supervised by Professor Carlo Makdisi, Engineers Yazan Akram Fadel and Yousef Mohammed Mohammed have designed and applied a programmable device to aid the disabled people who lost neurological sensation in their lower part.
The Syria Times e-newspaper met members of the creative team and their supervisor, Prof. Makdisi, to know more about the project.
The idea of the project
Eng. Fadel said: " Our invention is an electromechanical (Mechatronics) device, designed for disabled and war wounded, who lost neurological sensation and the ability to move their lower parts. The device simulates the normal human movement, such as walking, standing, and sitting. The future development of the introduced device to simulate other movements such as running, and going up and down the stairs will be achieved if our invention received the required support.
The suggested device is applied directly to any person with the ability to decrease and increase the dimension according to the process of the patient growing up. In addition to the future developments that includes upgrading the device to demonstrating its movements via brain signals.
The device mechanism:
Eng. Fadel clarified: "This device is fixed on the lower part of the human body via belts, from the pelvic down to the tip of the leg.
The device consists of mechanical components, tied by the pelvic and knees. These mechanical components are manufactured of light metals such as Aluminum or Titanium (which are substituted by Carbonated fibers, or Graphene). These metal parts are driven by DC motors, connected to gearboxes with specified transfer ratio.
The electrical part configuration:
"The DC motors are selected with a rotation speed of 4200 R.P.M with driven current 0.08 A and the supply voltage is 24 V, all these selected parameters allow to use neglected resistance cables and small dry batteries, which lasts for many hours before the required recharging".
The electronic configuration:
Talking about the device electronic configuration, Eng. Mohammed explained: "All mentioned DC motors are driven via suitable drive circuits, the device can be controlled by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Joystick. And all the components are connected to a programmable microcontroller.
In case that our invention gained the required financial support, this device can be developed to simulate all the human movement by providing it with more accurate motors.
A complete prototype of this device is ready to be applied and fully functional on children in range of 16 up to 25 kg weight."
" We can challenge and do the most complicated if we have the required material and financial support. We are ready to make our inventions scream that we exist, we can keep abreast of the latest global technologies and achieve the complex and most difficult," Eng. Mohammed concluded.
Prof. Makdisi said: "Work in the humanitarian field and the assistance of people with special needs, especially war casualties, is of utmost importance and can be achieved in our country with national expertise and at a very low cost in order to integrate the users of this device with the community again. In fact, the cost of the invention is much lower than its experimental equivalent, which cost up to $ 90.000, while our creative students designed and applied the working prototype at their own expense, without any financial aid, the cost was less than a thousand dollars.
Hence, we must appeal to companies, institutions and ministries to provide the necessary support for such important projects that solve real problems in our country"
" The creative mind of the Syrians will not stop, Yazan Fadel and Yousef Mohammed are clear example of this creativity. Wait for further future projects by Syrian creative students who demonstrate the real potential of the Syrians to contribute to the renaissance of their country.
We only need support from the concerned public or private bodies, so that we can introduce our products to the local market and to the neighboring markets in the next step. We hope that this important project and other projects will receive the necessary attention and funding so that the energies of our youth and students can be transformed into real outputs that support the development and prosperity of Syria," Dr. Makdisi concluded

 Amal Farhat.