Damascus International Fair return highlights post-war opportunities in Syria

Damascus International Fair return highlights post-war opportunities in Syria

The Damascus International Fair opens today for the first time in six years. The return of the Arab world’s oldest

Photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

The Damascus International Fair opens today for the first time in six years. The return of the Arab world’s oldest fair is being hailed by government officials as the “beginning of the recovery of the Syrian economy”.

While some may find this prospect absurd, post-war Syria will undoubtedly present economic opportunities for well-placed firms. All up, the IMF estimates reconstructing the country will cost some $200 billion.

Just who will finance Syria’s reconstruction depends on who holds power when lasting peace is finally found. By most accounts, that looks to be Bashar al-Assad—or at least his regime—suggesting countries like Iran and Russia will be at the front of the queue to both finance and rebuild devastated towns and cities. Indeed, firms linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have already secured contracts to operate telecommunication networks, mine phosphate and construct oil infrastructure.

Having rebuilt Beirut after 15 years of civil conflict, Lebanese firms—particularly those with ties to Hezbollah—are also ideally placed to capitalise on a post-war construction boom.

But before businessmen can move in, soldiers must move out. Diplomats meet in Astana later this month to discuss just that.