Syrians fleeing despair at home flock to the United Arab Emirates

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Dubai – Jimmy Al-Jiji was shocked by all the light when he moved to Dubai from Syria last year: bright buildings, busy streets, and rows of gorgeous cafes and restaurants.

It wasn’t like a home, a power-hungry place and all. “Honestly, there were times when my eyes hurt,” she said. She couldn’t sleep the first night she stayed in Dubai. “God, am I really here?” I was thinking.

Gigi, 30, is part of a wave of young Syrians, mostly men, who have traveled from Syria to the UAE in the past seven months after the Gulf state eased restrictions on Syrian tourist visas while normalizing relations with the Syrian government. President Bashar Assad.

The most obvious sign of the thawing of relations was last month when the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, hosted Assad in an Arab country for the first time since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. He represents a rift in their international campaign to ensure that Assad’s Syria remains a Parisian state.

The Arab relationship with Assad gives hope for the return of Syria

But for millions of ordinary people living in Assad-controlled areas, the president’s visit to the UAE was something of a horizon, sparking hopes of ending their long-term isolation and fleeing Syria where they are. it is optimism, work and need. There is no electricity for running water.

The UAE, along with other regional and western states, have been supporting Assad’s opponents for years. The Gulf states, however, marked a shift in relations with Assad when he resumed his diplomatic post in Damascus in late 2018. While stressing the importance of maintaining a “united and capable Arab Syria,” the then minister of Foreign Anwar Gargash has decided to open the embassy as a step towards ending the internal conflict in the country.

The turmoil in the UAE, coupled with the softened positions of some Gulf allies on Syria, sparked a debate on the effectiveness and morality of normalizing relations with the government, which led to massive human rights violations. At the heart of the debate are debates on how best to end the long civil war in Syria and whether that goal strengthens the country by isolating it, in part through Western sanctions.

However, Syrian municipalities lost in the debate seek help. In interviews, Syrian immigrants to the UAE recounted a difficult life in their home focused on survival and little else.

“We will never be able to catch up,” said 23-year-old Amar al-Rajal, who arrived in the United Arab Emirates a few weeks ago. He continues his graduate work and hopes to find a road engineering job in his chosen field, achievements that were impossible before he moved.

“I think we have lost Syria,” he said.

Working in Syrian restaurants, Gigi arrived in Dubai and found a job as a waitress in a restaurant run by a famous Syrian chef. He now calls her best friend home every morning and tries to get her to go. “Being in Syria makes no sense to you,” she said instead of saying hello or saying hello in the morning.

Gigi’s petition recently lost urgency: after seeing photos of Assad and the ruler of Dubai holding hands, she was no longer bothered by issuing UAE visas to Syrians. She said the visit shows that there are relationships that were once under the table and are now on the table.

“Life in Syria was like frozen to the ground, and you just worked tirelessly for a living,” Jiji said. He has resisted too long, refusing to leave the northern city of Aleppo during years of bitter fighting over the city between the rebels and the government. He was delighted when Assad took over the city in 2016.

This has just ended his country’s lawsuits and the past few years have brought waves of economic collapse.

The renewed violence in the cradle of the Syrian revolution shows that reconciliation is still unattainable

Across Syria, in areas controlled by rebels or the government, people have learned to live in open conditions, including gas and petrol. The country, which was historically a granary, is experiencing a slump in grain production due to drought and rising prices. Spending on essential kitchen products like tomatoes, cucumbers and lemons has nearly doubled in the past two weeks.

Gigi said it was very difficult to survive what she calls “economic warfare” in reference to Western sanctions. She began to record her life: with her modest salary she could not buy a car, a new phone or a birthday present. Even though she had money, he was worried about the future.

“You can’t spend like that in Syria for fear of something worse happening,” he said.

Hassan Daubi, 27, remained in Syria to prove his claim: there are still hardworking and curious minds. Studying control systems engineering, Dave founded an artificial intelligence club and was invited to a training camp in Lebanon in 2018.

He arrived a day late for training after struggling to raise the $ 2,000 in cash the guards wanted from the Syrians before they left the country. When he arrived, he felt like I went to another planet, but it was functional.

David returned home energetically. He launched an augmented reality initiative in partnership with the University of Syria to help dentistry students learn practical skills.

But the prospects for his new technological concern in Syria were limited. Like many Syrians, Daves did not have a bank account. The internet is known to be unreliable. Online payments are difficult due to the penalties. “In Syria,” he said, “you sell monkeys just like you sell a pair of shoes: ‘Come, buy, give me money.’

He questioned the need for sanctions to influence ordinary citizens, such as banning Coursera, a US-based online exchange service provider, from entering Syria. “How did he help anyone?” he asked her.

Iran’s roots are in eastern Syria and it opposes the Assad regime’s recruitment of fighters.

I currently work at Dubai Incubator from 12:00 to 14:00. He said he thought Assad’s visit gave the Syrians a spark of hope, but he wasn’t sure he was optimistic. “There is no answer,” he said, “but as far as Syria is concerned, ‘it’s all conjecture’.

Rajal left Syria after graduating from high school and moved to Malaysia, one of the few countries where Syrians do not need a visa. The 23-year-old has returned to Damascus Due to housing problems in an unidentified city in 2019. “Electricity, water, gasoline, fuel, diesel, all that is needed, are no longer available,” he said.

Last month she went to Dubai, a place that looks like the future. Wi-Fi is available in most areas. Public beaches have solar charging stations.

Rajali visited Dubai Expo 2020, which was held in a large venue hosting pavilions from 192 countries. The Syrian pavilion was adorned with large statues of wheat: once the country’s proud crop, it is now a symbol of its former glory due to war.

“My problem with Syria is that you still feel you are living in the past. Everyone says ‘We were there’, ‘We were fine’ and ‘We had our own lives’ “, she said.

“Now, our generation, what have we done? What do we have? “We have nothing to talk about,” she said.

Source: Washington Post