How Can Emigrant Syrian Capitals Contribute to the Reconstruction?

The topic of reconstruction in Syria already transcended the premise of the political desire of supporters and benefactors, and the discussions have moved on to the field of economics and investments, to implement a comprehensive study and constitute right foundations for execution.

The question today is, what is the role of Syrian expatriate entrepreneurs in these discussions? And how the concerned governments plan to attract their investments and recruit the strong and valuable relationships they have in their countries of immigration? Hence, positively support and encourage the return of the refugees to Syria, who are a vital human force in the dynamics of the Syrian economy.

On the other hand, what is the sentiment and attitude of these Syrian entrepreneurs towards the reconstruction case and the issue of the return of the refugees?

Damsco trade group which is headquartered in Dubai, perceived that circumstances became favorable to execute development projects in most Syrian regions and contribute to the return of the refugees to their country.

Mohannad Fayez Al Masre, Founder & Chairman of Damsco Group, who visited Syrian refugee camps in Hatay, southern Turkey, collaborated with the Turkish Red Crescent and observed the condition of the refugees and provided aides of food, clothes and heating appliances to thousands. He also expressed optimism after perceiving their craving desire to return to their country.

Mr. Mohannad Al Masre collaborated with the Martyr’s Affairs Office in Damascus and significantly contributed to the Martyrs’ Sons Center. He stated that “Syria is on the threshold of a historical turn and a new phase, different from the last eight years of war. This requires from all Syrians, especially business entrepreneurs, to get involved and start reconstructing their country.”

He pointed that their group, in particular, will be a pioneer in executing many significant plans and projects in the country, which will create thousands of new job opportunities, encouraging Syrians to return, and limit dependence on external aids.

He also stressed that “It is essential to have sustainable safety and stability in Syria to start the projects” for which all sides stand liable.

Mohannad Al Masre called his fellow compatriots to be prepared to return to Syria and reconstruct the country, stressing that “Fellow entrepreneurs should be in the forefront of the delegation when sustainable stability is achieved in Syria.”

In his response to the inquiry about projects that Damsco Group plans to carry out in Syria, he emphasized the importance of “Centering these projects around the Syrian individual and developing human resources, thus, prepare more youth to enter the labor market.”

He also added: “Practically we started supporting rehabilitation and training centers in refugee camps in regions neighboring Syria, which are meant to expand to all Syrian regions in the upcoming stages.”

He stated that “There are professional rehabilitation centers affiliated to the Group inside and outside Syria, which aim to train Syrian individuals and integrate them to the labor market, taking a huge burden off their shoulders.”

There is also the problem of “Lack of professional labor, and to solve this problem, we created an internet platform to apply for free professional training courses.”

Mohannad Al Masre focused on “the importance of supporting agricultural projects, considering the fertility of Syrian lands, and the urge to abolish the need for external food aids.”

**Supporting Small Projects**

“As a Syrian entrepreneur, I see that small projects and domestic workshops have been a part of the Syrian culture for decades, and we should preserve and empower this culture, ensuring that it remains rooted in the Syrian mindset.”

He continues “We know that there is great need to develop the real estate sector in Syria, but we shouldn’t focus all efforts to support this sector only, as this will cause an imbalance, which will negatively affect the attainment of sustainable peace.”

He also indicated that “Obtaining the financial capital for reconstruction is insufficient without having the needed professional skills, and the war left a huge gap in human resources.”

The Syrian entrepreneur Mohannad Al Masre concluded saying: “I perceived a strong desire to return in Syrian expatriates”, and he considers this desire to be “Positive energy and motivation” for him as an entrepreneur, to initiate the beginning of a new phase in the country.

Let us remember that, Damsco Group was established in Damascus in 2004, and moved to UAE in 2011, and became one of the Syrian companies that actively contribute to the reconstruction of Syria, implementing the energy of the Syrian youth with its diverse spectrum.

Mousa Khijo

Also on Mohannad Al Masre Blog

Apple, Samsung or Huawei: Which One is More Relevant to the Golden Circle?

When Simon Sinek published his book Start with Why in 2009, he contemplated on the critical importance of having a clear answer to the question WHY and a strong commitment to defined goals, for companies and individuals who seek to achieve prosperity and success.

Sinek thoroughly analyzed and explained the value of this question, and presented his theory The Golden Circle to guarantee sustainable success and prosperity to the institutions that imply its concepts. But, there is still no research that studies and compares the integration and effect of this concept in competing companies across the globe.

During the last decade, we have witnessed pivotal changes and developments in smart communication technologies, and the emergence of giant companies like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei.

Has Apple maintained its answer to WHY?

Simon Sinek mentions Apple as one of the successful companies that had clearly understood and successfully integrated the concepts of the Golden Circle, for its founder genuinely believed in the objectives of the company.

Sinek described the company’s accomplishments explaining in detail the factors that made them possible.

Without a doubt, Apple challenged, innovated, and made a difference in the world. People trust this trademark and believe in the quality of its products, and would excitedly stand for hours in long lines to purchase one of their pricey high-end new releases.

Apple dominated the smartphone market but not for long. The company didn’t face any real competition until Samsung entered the playground and started producing rival smartphones registering growing revenues.

At times, Samsung had to face and deal with problems. But, through perseverance and excellence was able to withstand and produce devices that surpassed Apple in specifications and revenues as well.  

Anyone who is familiar with Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle will logically ask the following question: Has Apple diverted and lost vision of its WHY which inspired and transformed our technology and its applications?

We may not be able to give a definite answer to this question now, but we can observe the decline in the sales of Apple smart devices in contrast to the stable growth of Samsung customers community.

Samsung: The Flexible Titan

It is somewhat entertaining to watch the ongoing competition between Samsung and Apple which resembles the rivalry chase between Tom and Jerry.

Both companies need to keep this battle between them going so that the world continues to witness brilliant innovations in smartphones and their applications.

Samsung obliged Apple to rethink its WHY which Sinek assumed the company believed in, trusting that their consumers loved their products.

This can be a pretty reasonable interpretation.But, we also need to consider that after ten years of rapid technological evolution, and with the constant change in the needs and expectations of new generations, Apple may have to reevaluate its vision.

On the other hand, we cannot definitely claim that Samsung has applied Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle even though the company continues to increase its sales, revenues, and the number of its committed customers, transcending those of Apple.

Huawei: The Attainable Red Treasure

Probably, the founder and president of Huawei Ren Zhengfei, has read Sinek’s book “Start with Why” or at least heard of it or considered the concept of WHY when he set his company’s vision.

What if this company has a clear vision of its Golden Circle and is indeed challenging that in which Apple believes?

Huawei’s slogan“Building a fully connected, intelligent world” might reveal to us the answer Ren Zhengfei envisages for his company’s Golden Circle’s central question WHY.

Today, Huawei smartphones are possessed by millions of people, who may not share its vision, but are glad to be able to obtain high-end technology with an affordable price.

Mr. Zhengfei repeatedly proclaimed that Huawei is a competitive company with advanced technology and pioneering innovative approach.

Is the affordability of Huawei devices the only contributor to its triumph? The company, indeed, aims to make new state-of-the-art smart technology available for everyone with affordable prices.

There could be other reasons for the rise in Huawei’s shares in the stock market, in addition to the ideology of its founder who believes in everyone’s equal right to access technology.

Until Simon Sinek delivers a new study in this regard, let us meditate in a quote from his book “Start with Why” in which he states: “Knowing WHY is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others.”

Mousa Khijo

Damsco Group’s Plans for Agricultural Development in Syria

According to collapse expert, Luke Kemp in his article published on “BBC” website civilization is defined as “a society with agriculture.”

Agriculture is one of the essential pillars of a state’s solid foundation. As the economy is the lifeline for any civilized entity on earth, and its pulse is nourished by agriculture, industry, trade and the investing of natural resources, it was crucial to focus on restoring the agriculture of a country thorn and exhausted by eight years of war and crisis.

Damsco Group led by its founder and CEO Mohannad Al Masre, established strategic restoration plans to revive the sector of agriculture in post-war Syria, by investing in the fertile Syrian land that was neglected during the bitter years of war, which affected not only the Syrian peasant and farmer, but the entire Syrian community with all its categories.

Syrian entrepreneur, Mohannad Al Masre’s plans, cover almost all industrious and service sectors in Syria, through the active involvement of Damsco Group’s different companies in the reconstruction of the country.

According to FAO reports, the Syrian agriculture sector suffered massive losses that reached 1.8 billion US dollars by 2013. By the end of 2015, the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform estimated the total losses of the sector by 2 billion US dollars. These numbers reached 225 billion US dollars according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR).

International reports of UN agencies show that 9.8 million people in Syria face food insecurity, and as many as 6.8 million live in extreme adversity, which negatively impacts the agricultural projects and the grocery trade market to a threatening extent.

On the other hand, according to the reports of the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, 7000 pine trees were planted in the country in 2017, and more than 3000 fruitful trees were planted in 2016.

Through its enterprises in the sectors of agriculture and the trade of main foodstuffs such as sugar, flour, olive and vegetable oils, Damsco Group upheld its approach in supporting the Syrian farmer regardless of the location of his land on the Syrian crisis map.

The strategy of Damsco Group was to take an equal stand to all sides, supporting the Syrian community without giving heed to the dividing classifications of the crisis, and purchasing the local agricultural produce for support price.

For the future, Damsco Group is considering the prospect of supporting agricultural projects in the governorate of Idlib, through the provision of affordable fertilizers and pesticides, as well as basic and essential agricultural equipment and machinery.

The Group is also investigating the best ways to encourage the Syrian youth to repatriate and to create opportunities for those who wish to invest in the sector of agriculture.

In this context, Damsco Group works on revitalizing the trade of Pistachio in the country, considering that growing this crop is widespread in Syria, which came in the fourth place in its production in the world after Iran, Turkey and USA (before 2011).

As growing “Aleppo pistachios” is centered in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib, Damsco Group provides safe land transportation services between the Syrian governorates and appropriates local trading markets for the crops in the Middle East.

Figure (1):

Figure (2):

Led by its chairman Mr. Mohannad Al Masre, Damsco Group also intends to support agricultural research for growing and cultivating Pistachio and help its production regions in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama to recover from the destruction and damage caused by the war.

In conclusion, as agriculture is the source of livelihood for humankind and civilizations, it is crucial that Syrians contribute to its development for the sustainable restoration of their country.

All the reports, numbers and tables in this article have been taken from the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (GFAR) and FAO. 

Mousa Khijo

Aspects of the Reconstruction of Syria and the Return of the “People of the Camps”

“When you return to your home, think about others *** Do not forget the people in the camps.”

Mahmoud Darwish (Palestinian poet)

These words by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish are the perfect prologue to our discourse about the Syrian refugees, and their return to the homeland.

A homeland that is like a sorrowful mother trying to regather her dispersed children, and heal her wounds that bleed painful memories. The Syrians need to forget the “The People of the Camps”, scattered like wounds all over the world, and afflicting the Syrians in all aspects of life.

We must not allow building a “Wall” that separates a household and puts a distinction between those who were forced by the war to seek refuge and suffer in foreign lands, and those who tasted the bitterness of its affliction in their homes.

Life requires a strong will to survive. We need to incorporate the energy of the Syrian youth everywhere to build the future of the country, diminishing discrimination and overcoming religious, sectarian, political or partisan divisions, and avoiding to classify people into “With” and “Against”.

Almost all Syrian entrepreneurs and businessmen stress the importance of this concept, as the best way to restore the years that were consumed by the destructive war, and reconcile all sides at the round table of the economy.

Syrian entrepreneur and chairman of Damsco Group in Dubai, Mohannad Fayez Al Masre, emphasized the importance of gathering all parties around a common point to reconstruct Syria, and support the return of the refugees so that they play their part in the renaissance of the country.

Yes, the economy comes first. You can’t start a project, or achieve advancement, without having the right economic base, to pave the way for a comprehensive renaissance project.

During his meeting with the “Qasioun Eagles”, the national team of Syria, on the occasion of the honoring ceremony of the team for participating in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which took place in the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic in Dubai, Mr.  Mohannad Al Masre, pointed out the importance of gathering all Syrians and overcoming all divisions, to imply all efforts in the service of greater good and the success of future projects.

Many may question the feasibility of the calls made by international and humanitarian organizations regarding the future of the refugees, and their safe return to their country, and providing favorable conditions for them to contribute to its economic development.

However, these calls gained positive feedbacks echoed from some Syrian entrepreneurs, like Mr. Mohannad Al Masre, who visited the refugee camps in Hatay, Southern Turkey, in an initiative to provide essential aids to thousands of refugees, including food, clothing and heating appliances desperately needed in Turkey’s climate. This was achieved in cooperation with the Turkish Government and the Turkish Red Crescent Society.

At the same time, the Chairman of Damsco Group played an influential role in the Center of the Martyrs’ Sons in Syria in cooperation with the Department of Martyrs’ Affairs in Damascus, believing that it is impossible to find a conciliatory language between the Syrians without serious and sincere intentions.

To sum up, the Syrians must create an atmosphere of reconciliation and harmony, and realize that the revival of their country will not be possible if they neglect the “People of the Camps”.

Mousa Khijo

Damsco Group: Future Investment Aspirations and Digital Transformation Applications in Dubai

After adopting the vision of Sheikh Zayed, and with the wisdom and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai has succeeded in attracting major leading international, commercial and economic Institutions to compete on its territory, in accordance with the UAE’s legislation, laws and facilities. Faced with this great economic momentum Mr. Mohannad Fayez Al Masre, Chairman of Damsco Group decided to enter UAE’s investment market in 2011, after successful experiences in the Middle East.

The Dawn of Damsco group

Damsco Group was established in Damascus in 2004, when it started its investments in the fields of the Stock Exchange Market, the Main Food Commodities Trade, and the Automotive Trade. Soon, the Group was able to raise its revenues in the local market, and registered significant growth during the first four years of its inception.

After their success, the Group’s Board of Directors, led by Mr. Mohannad Al Masre decided to expand the geographical area of ​​its investments by opening a branch in Baghdad in 2008, in addition to its projects in Syria.

These investments began in the oil and electric power generation sectors. The group has also entered major food tenders in Iraq to continue their success story further.

In 2011, the group opened an office in the heart of Dubai’s commercial city to enter the UAE’s economic competition. The Group’s Board of Directors believed that it was imperative to diversify investments. Thus they launched new projects in the real estate market, media marketing and government-related events in the UAE.

It was not long before the group set out for Europe through investments in Turkey. Indeed, an office was opened in Istanbul in 2017, to launch enterprises in the power generation sector and the trading of minerals and oil derivatives.

Why invest in the future?

Damsco Group is currently studying the possibility of digital transformation and the inclusion of digital applications within its diverse companies: Damsco Events – Damsco Media – Damsco Marketing – Damsco Car Rental – Damsco Trading-Damsco Logistics.

The group looks forward to competing in the “Joint Arab Vision for Digital Economy” launched at the end of 2018 in Abu Dhabi, and become a part of the digital equation in the future economic competition within the UAE.

The Group’s management believes that modern investment rules have evolved, and ambitious companies have to renew their “economic cells” to become more flexible and receptive to technological requirements, digital applications and challenges in the area of artificial intelligence.

People who are not familiar with the dynamics of the economy in Dubai may think that private companies, adopting digital transformation and smart applications, is a kind of “commercial vanity.” However, the city’s access to advanced infrastructure, communication technology, and the smart road transportation network allows for such “intellectual appearances”, and effectively contributes to the implementation of any project, regardless of its needs.

With these facilities offered by Dubai government departments, companies and institutions have two choices: Either a gradual shift to intelligent applications and a digitization policy, which is not easy, as this requires a clear strategic vision as well as an assessment of the company’s financial, human and technological capabilities that can make this vision a success.

Or, making a bold decision, and climbing the economic ladder to reach the summit, a necessary part of the future economic system in the UAE.

Damsco Group believes that conducting a digital transformation in its administrative and financial structure through the development of its internal departments such as public relations, human resources, financial management, personnel and other departments, will reflect in the productivity of its employees and its relationship with customers and competitors.

The Chairman of the Group, Mr. Mohannad Al Masre, through his cadres, seeks to develop innovative digital models to test the quality of their services and ensure the welfare of customers, while maintaining their professionalism and excellence. However, the Group did not disclose details about future implementation mechanisms as they prefer to wait until the right time in the future.

In this regard, the Group coordinates and cooperates with renowned UAE companies in the field of technology and innovative industries to ensure high quality and technological advancement.

In the end, everyone can start investing, but, a solid foundation and proper planning in any organization are what ensure its continuity and economic leadership.

Mousa Khijo

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