The completion date for the Al-Dweir Car Expo Centre, located outside Damascus, has been postponed to the end of October, the Assistant Minister of Public Works and Housing told the semi-official newspaper Al-Watan.
In September 2018, Syria’s Council of Ministers decided to establish a car expo centre in Al-Dweir, a town in the Rural Damascus governorate. A joint administration of the Damascus and Rural Damascus governorates would plan, zone, manage, and invest in the centre. The former prime minister laid the first foundation stone for the site in late 2018.
The centre has recently received renewed attention, with numerous meetings held to follow up on its implementation. These meetings were attended by the ministers of local administration and public works and housing, the governors of Damascus and Rural Damascus, members of the two governorates’ joint administration, and the general director of Cadastral Affairs.
The centre takes up 145 hectares of land and is next to the M5 Damascus-Aleppo highway near the Al-Wafideen camp. The land belongs to the Douma City Council. Zoning plans for the city were drawn in accordance with Urban Planning Law No. 5 of 1982.
A handful of companies and other public institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing are building the expo centre’s infrastructure and removing rubble. Lack of fuel supplies and financial difficulties have reportedly been the main factors delaying the project. A fuel shortage halted work on the expo centre for the first four months of 2022, according to official statements.
Applications for plots in the expo centre complex began in 2019 and continued until 2021. The application rate for plots in the city reached 120 percent in May 2021, according to the state-run SANA news outlet. However, it is unclear how 120 percent of the plots are allocated.
The expo centre, also referred to as an expo “city,” is the first of its kind in Syria. In addition to plots of land allocated for exhibitions, including workshops, offices, administrative buildings, and a single-window trade office, there are also a driver’s education track and various leisure areas.
Land ownership of the area has not been completely transferred to the expo centre’s joint administration. The last follow-up meeting for the project was held in August 2022. The meeting discussed real estate ownership and the need to carry through on the necessary legal procedures to transfer ownership to the project’s joint administration.
After finally transferring ownership of the land to itself, the joint administration will sell and allocate three types of plots on the property: large plots of 2,000-5,000 square metres for large car exhibitions and assembly plants; medium 500-1,000-square-metre pilots for car dealerships; and small 2500-square-metre plots for auto shops.
Priority in applying for plots in the expo centre will go to vehicle agency owners licensed to buy and sell both new and used cars in the Damascus and Rural Damascus governorates. Owners of offices for buying and selling auto parts in those two governorates, as well as craftspeople and those wishing to open such offices will also receive priority.
The expo centre will feature only professions related to the trade and manufacturing of cars. In 2018, the Damascus and Rural Damascus governorates agreed that the duties of their joint administration would also include rehabilitating the northern entrance to the capital city, removing informal housing, and demolishing the old car market in Harasta, which was destroyed during the conflict.
The car expo centre project came along on the sidelines of the project to re-zone the northern entrance of Damascus and evict its occupants, according to a correspondent for The Syria Report. The joint administration is reportedly working to pursue the owners of car showrooms in Harasta currently slated for demolition to close up shop and move to the Al-Dweir centre. Previously, the administration compelled the Harasta showroom owners to pledge that they wouldn’t demand compensation for the demolitions and that they would apply for plots in the new expo centre if they wanted to continue working in the car industry. A similar warning was also sent to owners of all car shops in the northern Damascus entrance area slated for demolition.