"Forty years of socialism -- this is what we're up against," said Abdallah Dardari, 46, a London-educated economist who serves as deputy prime minister for economic affairs. [President] Bashar has recruited Syria's best and brightest expatriates to return home. The new team has privatized the banking system, created duty-free industrial parks, and opened a Damascus stock exchange to encourage more of the private and foreign investment that has quickened the pulse of the capital and launched dozens of upscale nightclubs and restaurants. "My job is to deliver for the people of Syria," said Bashar, who is known for occasionally dropping by a restaurant, leaving the bodyguards outside, to share a meal with other diners. In his push to modernize, Bashar's most potent ally is his wife, the former Asma al-Akhras, a stylish, Western-educated business executive who has launched a number of government-sponsored programs for literacy and economic empowerment. Daughter of a prominent Syrian heart specialist, Asma was born and raised in London."The whole story is fascinating and timely -- especially since I've been keenly supporting the Innovate Syria initiative born here at MIT -- and because Syria is the lynchpin for enabling a peaceful and vital Levant.
26 October 2009
Reinventing Syria ~ Playing a Pivotal New Role
My favorite monthly magazine, National Geographic, spotlights Syria in the latest issue in an article by Don Belt and photos by Ed Kashi...