The war in Syria turned many the country's cities in war zones. Aleppo, Homs and Lakka are among the cities that succumbed to destruction and turned citizens into refugees.
But this is not a story of destruction: rather it is one of hope and opportunity. As the Syrian people rebound from the devastations of conflict, hope is evident all around. This is a country that appears to be primed for growth, offering opportunities for those seeking to build a career in a truly stunning region.
Perhaps most obviously, there is a clear need for those with skills in construction and infrastructure. Architects, planners and engineers are in demand and it's likely that this will continue to be the case for years to come. Some are already assisting with the reconstruction of houses and open-air markets, together with major buildings.
New ideas are also developing in this area, such as the creation a mentorship program, collaboration with academics to provide online learning material on architecture and project management. One of the common themes that has become evident is the need for resources on rebuilding and reconstruction in Arabic in a move to bring the community back to normal. In early 2019, audiences in the Middle East publicly shared documents in Arabic and shared knowledge on topics such as urban renewal, heritage politics and the role of cities in conflict reduction.
It is also important to remember the purpose of future reconstruction. Construction in itself can have a hugely positive impact, presenting a practical example of improvements in action.
The government has announced that it will award contracts to friendly countries supporting Syria during the civil war. The Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a speech to the UN General Assembly a few weeks ago that Western countries that established political conditions before introducing reconstruction funds were not welcome.
Syrian officials said because of the military constitution of the government in the past year, it was time to focus on reconstruction. The government occupies over 60% of Syrian territory, and its northern part is under the United States and Kurdish forces, opposition fighters and rebel groups aligned with Turkey.
A recent exhibition provides a good example of growth in action. Despite the sanctions imposed on Syria, 270 companies from 29 countries took part, with most companies taking part in this four-day exhibition being Syrian, but others being drawn from Lebanon, Iran and elsewhere.
They held the exhibition at the Damascus International Exhibition Centre, near the airport, which was so recently a location of conflict. Now it is part of an environment in which there are the first green shoots of growth.
As well as representatives from Lebanon, there were also those present from Russia, with companies from that country seeing opportunities here too.
Anisimov Valeriy, who works for the Russian petrochemical company JSC Promcatalys, said he wanted to enter an undeserved market, but had not yet avoided sanctions. He said he hoped to discuss with other businessmen at the meeting to transfer funds into and out of Syria.
While Russian companies face competition with China, we are taking serious steps to come up with proposals for reconstruction, even if it is a cautious attitude. Price Nahas, Syrian representative of China, Trueman Engineering Solutions, said China will still enter Syria despite them and that many companies being worried about security and stability. He added that these exhibitions will help the company’s representatives to assess the situation on the spot.
Syria is reliant on investment and development. Some will occur on a relatively small-scale, while other elements will require a grander stage. But what will emerge is a pathway back to normality. The initial demand for construction is quickly being followed by requirements for roles in other areas. There are already roles available in administration, marketing, education, quality control, graphic design, retail, real estate, services and IT, to name but a few. The available roles are set to increase, with good quality labour in short supply. For those who are able to make the most of the opportunities that are being presented, a bright future undoubtedly awaits.