A total of EUR 2.51 billion in loans was pledged by the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and France for 2024 and beyond for countries hosting Syrian refugees at the Brussels VIII Conference held in May. The amount represents a steep decline from the EUR 4 billion loans pledged last year.
The Syrian government has licensed two Iranian-led insurance companies, the first foray of Iran into the Syrian insurance industry. One of the two companies will be a conventional insurance services provider, Al-Mawaddah International Insurance Company Private JSC, while the other, Al-Salam International ReInsurance Company Private JSC, will be the country’s second re-insurance company.
The Syrian government is planning to issue soon Sukuks, Islamic-compliant bonds, as its latest treasury bond auctions failed spectacularly. This move is likely a consequence of the spectacular failure of the latest auctions by the Treasury to raise money through the issuance of conventional bonds.
On March 20, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad issued Law No. 18 of 2024 exempting microfinance banks from taxes and fees. The combined assets of the four microfinance banks stood at less than SYP 200 billion at the end of 2022, less than those of the smallest private sector commercial bank, Bank Al-Sharq.
In a major shift in the Syrian banking landscape, Banque Bemo Saudi Fransi has taken over the stakes of Lebanon’s Byblos Bank SAL in its Syrian subsidiary, Byblos Bank Syria SA, leading to BYB's official departure from the Syrian market after 19 years operating in the country.
Between February 22 and 24, around thirty Syrian entities linked to the electronic payment services field, namely banks, telecommunication companies and software companies, gathered in Aleppo to attend the First Conference and Exhibition for Electronic Payment in Syria. The conference, a first in Syria, was organised by the Syrian Computer Society, the Central Bank of Syria, and the Thiqa Company for Exhibitions and Conference.
The Near East Foundation, a non-governmental organisation headquartered in New York, has established Siraj Financial Services. This microfinance lender will operate exclusively in northern Syria. SFS plans to build a portfolio of 23,300 active clients and a gross loan portfolio of USD 18 million by 2027, while it is seeking to raise USD 15 million in grant funding and more than USD 10 million through several funding schemes.
The Central Bank of Jordan has tightened money transfers from Jordan to Syria by reverting the easement of conditions adopted in March 2023 in the aftermath of the February 6 earthquake. The Jordanian move can be seen as a way to avoid international sanctions.
In a financial disclosure to the Damascus Securities Exchange on December 7, SKIC, one of 14 insurance companies operating in Syria, said that CHO Advisory, a Lebanese company belonging to Riad Obegi, the Syrian investor behind the Bemo banking group, purchased 40 percent of its shares. CHO bought some 35 percent of the shares from the Saudi-based Gulf Insurance Group and the rest from other shareholders. GIG, which was until then SKIC’s strategic shareholder, saw its stake fall to 4 percent.
Al-Baraka Bank Syria, one of four Sharia-compliant banks in Syria and the country’s third largest private sector bank, has been rated by an international agency, a rare case of a Syrian bank being rated.