Russia signs $60 million Latakia tourism deal despite huge poverty and corruption blighting Syria

Russia signs $60 million Latakia tourism deal despite huge poverty and corruption blighting Syria
A Russian investment company has signed a $59.7m tourism investment deal for the development of a four-star hotel complex in Syria's coastal city of Latakia.
2 min read
11 October, 2022
The development is set to contain 48 chalets and a 350-room hotel on Syria's coast [Getty]

A Russian company has signed a $59.7 million investment deal for the development of a new tourism site on Syria's coast, despite huge poverty blighting the country.

A four-star complex will be implemented by a Russian company named Sinara in Latakia's Gol Jamal district, taking up 70 dunams (17 acres) of land, according to a statement by the Syrian regime.

The development will include 48 chalets and a 350-room hotel alongside childrens' playgrounds, swimming pools,  sports areas and mini golf courses. Land will also be dedicated to offices, entertainment services, and a physiotherapy centre. 

The Russian company promised to complete the first phase of the project in the area, viewed as a stronghold of the Assad regime, by 2024 and the last by 2028.

The project was agreed upon despite the ongoing war and economic crisis in Syria, which has made millions homeless and plunged many more into poverty.

Latakia province, the home of the Assad family, has suffered from less violence than other parts of Syria.

Syria is subject to strict US sanctions due to regime war crimes which makes it difficult for outside parties to invest in Syria. 

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Despite the large investment by Assad ally Russia, economic researcher Younes Al-Karim believes the project will offer only limited rewards to a small number of Syrians.

"The economic benefit is limited due to the decline of domestic tourism in the country… and the collapse of purchasing power of most Syrians," al-Karim told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Although the project will create some jobs only a fraction of Syrians will have the money to benefit from the tourism services, due to the extreme poverty in Syria.

While war has contributed to economic malaise in Syria, huge corruption has also made a small number of Syrians extremely wealthy while the rest of the country struggles to afford basics such as food and energy.

Syria was named the second most corrupt country on earth in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Al-Karim believes Russia aims to increase its control over the Syrian coast with such investments, having already built and expanded the Latakia Khmeimim Air Base and Tartous port.

Syria has been embroiled in an 11-year-long war, started when in 2011 the Assad regime brutally cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Russia intervened in 2015 to aid the collapsing Assad regime but at a devastating cost for civilians. Over 500,000 people have been killed in the war and 80 percent of the population plunged into poverty.