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Syria Today – AANES Tries to Boost Investments; First Syrian Designer Cited in BoF500

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Khaled Khalifa Khalid
Syria Today – AANES Tries to Boost Investments; First Syrian Designer Cited in BoF500

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has implemented measures to encourage investment and attract capital to the northeastern regions of Syria, aiming to revitalize the economy and broaden sources of income. Concurrently, Rami al-Ali, a prominent designer from the Middle East, achieved a historic milestone by being the first Syrian fashion designer to be featured in the prestigious BoF 500 list. This index by the Business of Fashion recognizes individuals who significantly influence and shape the fashion industry.

Iran, Venezuela, And Syria Ink Landmark Oil Refinery Deal

Iran has revealed plans to build a new oil refinery in Syria’s Homs governorate with a capacity of 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) as part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Damascus and the government of Venezuela.

“A tripartite memorandum was signed between Iran, Venezuela, and Syria for a new 140,000 barrel refinery to be built in Syria,” Jalil Salari, the Managing Director of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) told state-run Fars News Agency this week.

“The studies that were conducted found that Syria and its neighbouring countries are in need of petroleum products, therefore a refinery with a capacity of 140,000 barrels was identified next to the two existing Syrian refineries of Homs and Bania,” the official added, highlighting that the three nations will soon enter the financing and construction phase.

Salari also revealed that the existing Homs refinery was repaired by Iranian engineers during a visit by President Ebrahim Raisi in May and that the studies for the new refinery were conducted by a team from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

The landmark deal comes in spite of a brutal sanctions campaign from the West that nearly decimated the oil industries of all three nations.

Iran has played a pivotal role in helping both Syria and Venezuela overcome the worst of the Western onslaught, providing both countries with technical, material, and military assistance.

In June, Caracas resumed work at the El Palito oil refinery, which is undergoing major repair and expansion work as part of a 100-million-euro deal signed in May 2022 with NIORDC. Iranian technical teams are also working to restore Venezuela’s largest oil refinery complex, the Paraguana Refining Center. The plan calls for combining Chinese and Iranian parts and equipment in a refinery built initially using US technology.

By building the new refinery in Homs, Iran will also aid Syria in boosting its oil production levels, as the country has lost over $100 billion in revenues since the start of the war due to the destruction caused by Western bombs and an ongoing oil theft campaign led by the US occupation army.

AANES encourages investments in NE Syria

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) introduced facilitation to stimulate investors and attract capital to the northeastern regions of Syria for revitalizing the economy and diversifying income sources.

These measures, according to North Press, focus on attracting foreign investment by granting them rights and legal guarantees for protection, in addition to opening up to local investment by supporting it with production necessities and removing obstacles, according to officials of the AANES.

On September 11, the AANES issued an investment law consisting of 33 articles aimed at promoting and enhancing investment in northeastern Syria.

Releasing Funds

Officials of the AANES emphasize that this law is the most developed in the region because it includes incentives to attract and stimulate both local and foreign investments in their regions.

“The key provisions of the law include freedom to transfer and introduce funds to and from the northeastern regions of Syria, in addition to the freedom to introduce production lines and bring in expert labour from abroad,” according to Muhammad Shawqi, Co-chair of the Economy Board of the AANES.

“These incentives are real and not formal, not related to tax or customs exemptions but to the freedom to transfer funds and ownership during the project period and other key provisions of the law”, Shawqi noted.

Similar to other regions in Syria, the northeastern regions of the country have been affected by the ongoing war, leading to the migration of many capital owners, as well as the destruction and theft of vital economic facilities.

The recently issued investment law aims to open up to local investment, improve the economic reality, increase local production, and encourage exports for sustainable development.

The Co-chair emphasizes that there are no obstacles to any investment in the northeastern regions of Syria.

“We have no obstacles to establishing investments, and the procedures are very simple, including licensing and establishing projects. Moreover, we support these projects with production requirements, whether related to fuels or others. Additionally, there are no customs barriers for importing the necessities of factories or plants into the northeastern regions of Syria, whether they are related to raw materials or production lines and others”, he added.

Rami al-Ali is first Syrian designer to be recognized by the Business of Fashion list

Middle Eastern designer Rami al-Ali has become the first Syrian fashion designer to be included in the BoF 500 list, the Business of Fashion’s index of the people shaping the fashion industry, Arab News reported.

“Privileged to be included in #BOF500 2023, thank you @imranamed for your trust and your vision,” posted Al-Ali on Instagram, acknowledging Imran Amed, the founder and CEO of BoF.

While Al-Ali has had a loyal celebrity and royal following in the Middle East for years, more recently he has dressed global stars including Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell.

Ali has demonstrated a commitment to nurturing young designers through mentorship programs with the Esmod Fashion Institute in Dubai and the Dubai Design and Fashion Council. He is the founder of Ard Dyar, an initiative dedicated to empowering upcoming Syrian talents by connecting them with accomplished leaders in the industry.

Acclaimed Syrian author Khaled Khalifa dies aged 59

The much-acclaimed Syrian author, poet and screenwriter Khaled Khalifa passed away on Saturday at the age of 59 at his home in Damascus.

According to his friends, the cause of death was a heart attack.

Khalifa’s novels, poems and TV screenplays earned him much critical acclaim over the years, while he won and was nominated for many prestigious literary prizes.

However, much of Khalifa’s work was critical of Syria’s Baathist regime and for that reason was banned from publication or distribution in his homeland.

Born in Aleppo in 1964, Khalifa gained fame as a writer of several popular Syrian TV series in the early 1990s. He transitioned into writing novels in his twenties.

Though his first novel ‘The Guard of Deception’ was well received by critics, his international breakthrough as a novelist came with 2006’s ‘In Praise of Hatred’.

The book, which took Khalifa 13 years to write, tells the complex story of a young Sunni woman in Aleppo as she is brainwashed but also conditioned into extremist sectarian Islamism against the backdrop of the Alawite-dominated Baath regime unjustly ruling her life and viciously crushing the Muslim Brotherhood uprising of the late-1970s, ruthlessly bombarding Aleppo in the process. 

The book is considered a modern Arabic language classic and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2008. It was translated into six languages. In Syria, the book was deemed subversive by the Assad regime and banned.

In 2013, Khalifa won the ultra-prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for his novel ‘No Knives in the Kitchens of this City’, which is a story that spans multiple decades and generations of a family living in Aleppo under the Baath regime.

His later works, such as 2016’s Death is Hard Work and 2019’s ‘No One Prayed Over Their Graves’, were all met with massive critical acclaim. 

Many Syrian and other Arabic language authors took to social media to mourn his death.

Robin Yassin-Kassab, a Syrian-Scottish author who wrote the foreword to the English language version of ‘In Praise of Hatred’, wrote: “The great Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifa has died […] he leaves books that will be read so long as there are Syrians.”

Kuwaiti writer Taleb al-Refai also mourned him: writing “Shocking news my dear friend Khaled Khalifa, there is no consolation in the domain of Arabic novels”.

Until the end, Khalifa refused to leave Syria despite the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War and being listed as a potential enemy of the Assad regime.

In 2012, when pro-Assad thugs broke his left hand at the funeral of a murdered musician, Khalifa defiantly reacted by pointing out that it didn’t matter as he wrote with his right hand.  

In a 2019 interview, Khalifa was asked why he stayed in Syria despite the threats and the dire situation of the war.

He replied: “I am staying because this is my country. I was born here, I live here and I want to die here!”

Khaled Khalifa will be buried on Sunday in Damascus.

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