The Syrian chambers of commerce in 2020: the rise of a new business elite

Two years after the end of their mandates in 2018, the formation of new boards of directors of Syrian chambers of commerce in September and October 2020 shows significant changes in the regime’s businessmen networks. These elections saw a rise of businessmen who expanded their economic activities during the war and are often connected with the presidential palace and/or are affiliated with the Fourth Division and pro-regime militias, especially in Damascus, Aleppo, Rural Damascus and Tartous.

The profiles of these newcomers reflect a deepening of the features of the Syrian political economy, which is characterised by an over-development of trade, especially in imports and service sectors such as construction, money exchanging, food production and trading, and furniture services. At the same time, some prominent business figures close to the presidential palace were not re-elected. In the most important chambers of commerce in Damascus and Aleppo their absence is partially filled by the promotion of older and more traditional business figures, although they are very far from having the same weight as the new rising personalities.

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