US-sanctioned Assad regime tycoon heads UAE-Syria business forum

US-sanctioned Assad regime tycoon heads Syria business forum in UAE
2 min read
21 January, 2019
A Syrian business tycoon with deep links to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has headed a trade meeting in the UAE, as the Gulf state opens up to Damascus.

The US and the EU imposed trade sanctions on Hamsho in mid-2011 [Twitter]

A Syrian business tycoon with deep links to President Bashar al-Assad's regime has headed a trade meeting in the UAE, as the Gulf state opens its doors to Damascus.

Syrian and Emirati state media reported on Sunday that Mohammad Hamsho, who is under US and EU sanctions, led the Syrian delegation at the UAE-Syrian Private Sector Forum.

"Syria's recovering from terrorism provides a stable investment environment," Hamsho was quoted as saying by Syria's SANA news agency.

The forum is a bid to attract investors from energy-rich UAE to help rebuild Damascus' war-torn economy, Emirati media reported.

Hamsho is part of Assad's inner sanctum and is a business partner of the infamous Rami Makhlouf - the economic powerhouse of the Syrian regime.

The United States and the European Union imposed trade sanctions on the businessman in mid-2011 for his alleged links to the Assad regime.

Hamsho's empire includes communications, technology, tourism and real estate companies.

The event comes after UAE - a close ally of the US - announced late last month that it had reopened its Damascus embassy.

Several Arab states are seeking to restore ties with Assad after his forces made decisive gains in the brutal war, in a bid to expand their influence in the war-torn country.

Just days before the UAE re-opened its embassy, Sudan's president made the first visit by an Arab leader to Damascus since the start of the conflict.

Lebanon this week called for the Arab League to readmit Syria ahead of a regional economic summit in Beirut.

The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in the bloc in November 2011, as the death toll rose during the regime's brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started with peaceful pro-democracy protests