Syria Banker ’09: The new face of Syria’s economy

Syria Banker '09, Forward MagazineWhen our team of writers and editors started working on Syria Banker ’09 some 6 months ago, the preassure of producing a comprehensive guide on Syria’s new economic landscape  – and the role of private banks in changing the face of Syrian economy – was a great challange for all of us.

“While several banks around the world
have closed down in the wake of the
crisis, more banks are going to open
in Syria before the end of 2009. Since
private banks made their successful
comeback in 2004, after more than 40
years of absence, they have been working
very hard to provide comprehensive
services to the Syrian market. They
succeeded in many aspects, and failed
in others. All in all, their performance
was satisfactory to their shareholders.”

— excerpt from op-ed by Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO and group publisher of Haykal Media, mother company of Forward Magazine/Syria Banker ’09.

We started out with creating a thought map for the guide – we successfully released early August (as evident from a previous post) – by identifying what really needs to be emphasized. We decided for the guide to be hefty and rich we needed to have the following elements:

  • Interviews with pivotal policy makers whose vision and work is promising a great change for Syrian economy (Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Dardari, Finance Minister Mohammad Hussein, and Central Bank Governor Adib Mayaleh). These people are the ones with visions for opening up the Syrian market, drawing strategies to attract foreign investment and inacting laws to prevent money laundering.
  • Interviews with bankers and testimonies about their journey in the Syrian market… what challanges lie ahead, what’s been achieved and what is planned down the pipeline.
  • Inteviews with thinkers and economists who can analyze the current trends growing in Syria in commercial, corporate retail and Islamic banking.

By speaking to all of these people we covered every turf possible related to banking reforms in Syria, we also wrote up an interesting report about the financial landscape of all of the operating banks in Syria, with focus on the ones that are slated to open in the near future.

The people who have so far asked for copies of Syria Banker 09 include economists, entreprenuers and professionals who are interested in keeping up with their country’s fastest growing industry.

To order your copy inside and outside Syria

For more details on Syria Banker ’09…
Forward Magazine
PO Box 28, Damascus, Syria
T +963 (11) 2245200
F +963 (11) 2223465

To order online click here

 Text by Syria Banker ’09 editor, Ruba Saqr

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3 Responses

  1. I have ordered an issue of this publication and it has many useful information. Although, I expected a much more professional insight from the Forward magazine. I was looking for market studies and more detailed information and analysis of trends in the banking and financial systems in Syria. You call it “a complete guide” and that’s what I expected. What I got is a special edition of the magazine that contains a couple of good articles (with little in-depth analysis and figures) and interviews with many people.

    What I’m saying is that this is a very good edition but it’s no more than an over-priced special edition of the forward magazine. As readers, we appreciate hard work. In this case, I don’t think the work taken to prepare this was much more than the regular day-to-day work of journalists to justify a 20$ price (especially that the “guide” is full of advertisements to cover your costs).

    I’m sorry to express my opinion publicly but I think this is why you have a blog and I’m sure you would appreciate feedback.

  2. Dear Majd:

    Thank you for your comments and for finding the time to express your opinions. Indeed, this blog was created to establish more communication with our readers, and to keep open and transparent channels with you, as part of our vision at Haykal Media.

    Re the points you raised, please consider the following:
    1- “Syria Banker ’09” does run an in-depth banking study (p46-p57), with detailed information on the performance of all operational banks (their capitals, establishment dates, assets, portfolios of direct credit facilities, deposits, revenues, their contribution to treasury, growth rates, and an analytical overview on the economic efficiency of the banking sector). This covers the 1st point you raised.
    2- In addition to this, a critical report on what the banking sector in general needs to boost its performance is detailed on p78, where the SBC points out the Syrian laws and policies that need to be changed so as to allow better growth for the financial sector.
    3- In article titled, “Defining the dynamics of financial reforms,” we have been granted an exclusive interview with Mr. Adib Mayaleh, Governor of the Central Bank. We are the first Syrian publication to publish the figures, opinions and information expressed in the article p14-p18. The information provided is in-depth and useful for anyone from the local and/or foreign business sectors. It shows what is being done to create a secure financial platform.
    4- On policy level, the interview with Mr. Abdullah Dardari, Deputy Prime Minister, the article provides critical insights on Syria’s strides forward. Any economic and political analyst will find this interview in particular of great weight due to the policy pointers that show where reforms will be taking us, and what the future will look like.
    ……

  3. 5- The diversity of interviewee backgrounds (economists, observers, analysts, bankers, government policy-makers) and articles, in addition to the comprehensive figures and numbers provided in the guide is what makes this guide “complete.” You have Islamic bankers and observers critiquing Islamic banking, you have private bankers critiquing some aspects of the economic fabric, some talking about anti-competitive behavior, others pointing out what made Syria dodge the international credit crunch. The opinions expressed need an analytical mind, ready to decipher a diverse array of opinions to draw a general overview of what is going on in Syria.
    6- Our team dedicated a lot of time and efforts to gather, check and double check the information in this guide. The number of times we proofread the guide, double checking it over and over again for any idiosyncrasies is more than our readers can expect. The team of journalists who worked on the included interviews carried out huge research before coming up with their questions, so that we could tap every possible angle to cover everything related to the banking scene: from policy-level to grass-root microfinance challenges.
    7- Collecting information in Syria is not an easy task, since there are no data-banks or one-stop-shops for us as media people to get our information from. This alone allowed us to dedicate a team of 5 researchers to make sure all the information this guide provides is accurate and up-to-date.
    8- The fact you felt “Syria Banker ‘09” was “magaziney” comes from the fact we intended it to be so… The heavy information in the guide was organized and presented in a way to lend it some lightness so our readers won’t feel they were being spoon-fed the information. We added a photo-essay (p32-42) to soften the guide, and we have adhered to several recognized journalistic standards to accomplish an easy-to-read, user-friendly guide that has all the right elements. We were also very careful not to compromise the intellectual value of the product – by providing an array of analytical features and opinion pieces, as well as very informative interviews from within and around the sector. We could have opted to present the same material in a way that would have left our readers with the feeling they were carrying around a heavy, hard-to-digest book, but that’s not what people in the business of publication are keen on doing 🙂

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