UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — UAE companies are participating in the 2019 Damascus International Fair, according to media reports, in their first participation since the outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011.
After severing ties with the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2012, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus at the end of 2018.
The exhibition, which opened on Wednesday, had not been held for four years because of the war and reopened in 2017.
An official source at the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade told Al-Watan newspaper that a large delegation of UAE businessmen arrived in Damascus on Thursday to participate in the Damascus International Fair.
“This is our first participation, and we are part of a high-level UAE delegation, led by the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the delegation includes important businessmen,” Syrian employee Farouq Khattab told AFP.
The official Syrian news agency (SANA) said 38 countries and 1,700 institutions are participating in the 2019 edition of the exhibition.
“It is unacceptable for institutions, individuals and chambers of commerce outside Syria to participate in an exhibition with the Assad regime,” the State Department said Tuesday.
“Anyone who deals with the Syrian regime or its partners exposes itself to possible US sanctions,” the US embassy in Syria wrote on its Twitter account.
The US embassy has suspended its activities in Syria since 2012.
SANA said Prime Minister Imad Khamis visited a number of foreign and Arab pavilions participating in the exhibition, including Russia, Iran, China, Iraq, Venezuela, Oman, Belarus, DPRK, Pakistan, UAE, Crimea, Indonesia, Philippines, Cuba and Macedonia.
In response to a question about the US threat to impose sanctions on companies participating in the exhibition, Eng. Khamis explained that “these threats are not new and have been going on since before the war on Syria and during which they have an agenda of sabotage, destruction and killing of Syrian people.”
Since the conflict began in 2011, the United States and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on Damascus authorities as well as businessmen linked to the regime.
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