Unexpected Number of Visitors to DIF Draws Attention of Diplomats, Participants, Even Visitors Themselves

The 59th Damascus International Fair has witnessed unprecedented, or more accurate, unexpected, number of visitors, who came to celebrate the declaration of victory with the trade fair return and to see the products being featured there by 1562 companies representing 43 countries.

The existence of hundreds of thousands of visitors in the fairground on Friday was amazing to several diplomats, including Cuba's Ambassador to Syria Rogerio Manuel Santana Rodriguez, who was inspecting the pavilion of his country in the fair.

 "The huge number of visitors is amazing. I congratulate the Syrian people, army and government because this is thanks to their victories against terrorism," he told the Syriatimes e-newspaper's reporter, stressing that his country is always interested in showing its solidarity with and support to Syria.

 "Our relationship with Syria is very strong politically and diplomatically, but not too much economically. Therefore, we want to make our relationship in economy and trade as strong as they are politically and diplomatically. This is our interest," the ambassador said, congratulating Syria for this celebration, which he described as 'great'.

"All the best for your country," he concluded.

Abkhazia

Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Abkhazia, Tamila Mertskhulava told us that her country received an official invitation from the Syrian Ministry of Economy to take part in the fair.

"We take part in the expo for the first time and it is the second visit to Syria. We have signed agreement on bilateral cooperation with the Federation of exporters of Syria in 2014 but our first visiting to Damascus was in 2009 when the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Abkhazia signed agreement on bilateral cooperation with Damascus Chamber of Commerce. We exhibit Abkhazian products like tea, wine and honey. We also have printed materials about Abkhazia's culture, history, investment policy, economy and trade relations with foreign countries. We are happy to be here and we hope that in the future we can establish relations with Syria and its exporters," she said.

Lebanon

Mahmoud Ghamlouch, General Manager of the Lebanese 'Echo' company said: "We missed Damascus, the great Arab capital, which is part and parcel of the Arab world. Actually, the purpose of our participation in the fair is not commercial. There is a decision to make this fair a success and it is a successful event."

He affirmed that he has never witnessed such huge turnout in the Arab and international fairs he participated in over the past years.

Around 40 Lebanese companies are taking part in the fair in order to say that Syria and Lebanon are together in economic development and reconstruction of Syria.

Egypt

It was not only Lebanon that wanted to stress unity with Syrian people, but also Egypt which is taking part in the fair after a five-year hiatus.

"The Egyptian delegation exhibit products in the fields of engineering, transportation, gifts, textile, houseware and furniture inside a 600 square meter pavilion in the Damascus International fair," Assistant of Egyptian Pavilion's Director Ayman Abdul Fattah, who is visiting Syria for the first time, told us.

He affirmed that Syria is safe and it is like Egypt. "the Egyptians and Syrians are one people," he said.

Sudan

Eng. Abdallah Abass M.Elhashmy, General Manager of ZadnaInt.Co. for investment in Sudan, expressed admiration over the joy he saw in the eyes of visitors to the fair.

"This is my first visit to Syria, which is a brotherly country, and we exhibit in our pavilion chemical-free organic products such as Mango, Grapefruit and dates," he said, refuting media allegations that describe Syria as unsafe country.

"I saw people walking in the streets and children playing in gardens in Damascus. Everything is normal," he added.

Yemen

Head of the pavilion of Yemen in the fair Nabil Ahmad said that his country participates in the activity in order to share Syrian people declaration of victory over terrorism.

"Despite the blockade being imposed on Yemen and its people, we have decided to come to Syria to take part in this activity, which is a declaration of victory. We draw our victory from Syria's victory over terrorist aggression," he declared, pointing out that they had found a way to transit shipments from and to Syria as a first step to break the blockade and to resume commercial exchange between the two countries.

"I wish Syria prosperity," Ahmad said, adding that the huge turnout for the fair proves that the Syrian people have shaken off the dust of terror war launched on the country since 2011.

Media center

Director of media center in the fair Batol Abdo told us that there are 60 pavilions occupying 74.000 square meters in the Damascus International Fair.

She gave us 6printed papers including information about festivals to be held during the 10-day fair, the stations of buses that pick up persons free from 8 areas in Damascus, e-application service in the fair and the number of countries taking part in the activity.

Some 23 countries are officially participating in the fair, while 20 European, Asian and Arab countries are participating through their agents because of the unjust economic sanctions being imposed on the country and on its people, the papers indicate.

The participating countries are:  Belgium, UK, Germany, France, Holland, Denmark, UAE, Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Jordan, Bahrain, Greece, Czech, Armenia, Belarus,  China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Democratic Korea, Lebanon, Palestine, Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela, Abkhazia, Brazil, Oman, Pakistan.

There is a crystal chandelier in the middle of the media center including photos of journalists, who were martyred as they were covering clashes between the Syrian army and foreign-backed terrorist organizations in several areas in Syria.

However, in the square of the fair there are several screens showing ancient sites in Syria plus celebrations held by youths to express their happiness for the return of the fair.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Imad Khamis opened the 59th Damascus International Fair.

Reported by: Basma Qaddour

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