Since its inception in 1994, Project Lebanon had a basic role in the efforts exerted to rebuild Lebanon. Consequently, Project Lebanon became one of the most important gateways for regional and international companies to access the Levant market and to the larger Middle Eastern market. Actually, for many years, Project Lebanon acted as a launching pad for many Syrian and Arab businessmen to meet and network with the international business community in addition to the traders scattered around the wide Lebanese diaspora.
Taking into consideration these added values plus the strategic location of Lebanon, IFP organized the Syrian Businessmen Forum that was opened on 4 June at Biel. The forum continues today. More than 40 Syrian trade and contracting companies are taking part in this forum.
The forum was opened by the previous Lebanese Minister of Finance Demianos Kattar who underlined the big efforts needed to rebuild Syria and the role that Lebanon and Lebanese entrepreneurs could play in implementing the reconstruction and the development plans.
Speaking at the panel was Mr. Abdullah Dardari, Director of the Economic Development and Globalization Division (EDGD) at the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). From his position, Mr. Dardari currently oversees the "National Agenda for the future of Syria" launched by ESCWA to assess the needs of development in Syria.
In his turn, Sakr Aslan, an expert of financial markets, and the former Deputy Executive Director of the Securities Commission and the Syrian Financial Markets, underlined the risks and the opportunities existing in the Syrian financial market. The closing speech of the first session was delivered by Ali Khunde, an expert and an adviser at ESCWA dealing with partnership between the public and private sectors. Khunde addressed the reconstruction of the infrastructure and energy sectors in Syria when the crisis is over.
The forum aims to accompany international efforts preparing for the development of Syria, and provide an overarching framework that brings together Syrian businessmen with their counterparts from the region and the world to discuss the options and capabilities available to put into effect operational plans for the development in Syria , and cultivate a network of relationships and partnerships between Syrian businessmen themselves , as well as international and regional partners , while strengthening the capabilities of these networks in various areas of profession so that they are able to participate actively and effectively in the anticipated stages of development. This will take place through a series of bilateral meetings between the leaders of the Syrian business community, representatives of companies, diplomatic and trade delegations, as well as regional and international organizations participating in Project Lebanon.
It’s worth mentioning that according to "ESCWA", $200 billion is needed to launch the reconstruction process in Syria, including $22 billion to rebuild 1.2 million homes, and six billion dollars for electricity, water, gas and other basic infrastructure.