Photo taken on May 5, 2018, in Syria's northern city of Aleppo shows a host standing next to a Chinese car showcased during the Aleppo International Fair, the first international fair held in Aleppo during the Syrian crisis, with 400 companies taking part. (Xinhua/Hummam Sheikh Ali)
ALEPPO, Syria, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Chinese brand cars have been shining in the ongoing International Aleppo Fair in the country's northern city of Aleppo, with merchants stressing growing trust in the Chinese automobile industry during Syria's seven-year-old crisis.
Chinese sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks were put on display on the fair from May 5 to May 11, the first international exhibition in Aleppo during the country's long-running conflict.
During the period of conflict, the imports of new foreign cars have come to a halt largely due to the Western sanctions on Syria as well as the economic measures undertaken by the Syrian government regarding the imports of cars to preserve the country's foreign exchange reserves.
In terms of the Chinese cars, Syrian companies have imported the parts of the cars from China and assembled them in factories in Syria in coordination with Chinese companies.
Chinese cars are sold in Syria at reasonable prices affordable by most Syrian buyers. BYD, Great Wall, and Faw have become famous and well-known in the country.
Visitors in the fair seemed interested in the Chinese cars, checking their specifications and their interiors.
Hamdo Nashed, a visitor, told Xinhua that he was interested in the Great Wall cars, saying "my friend had bought a hatchback car and he has been driving it for three years and it is good."
Qadri Shanan, another visitor, also has a friend who owns a Chinese car, saying "the car is naturally promoted when people try it and it's proved to be good and reliable as time moves on. People want to buy it because they have friends or relatives who have already bought it."
The marketing manager of the Shammout Auto company told Xinhua during the fair that there is a growing demand for Chinese cars in Syria.
"During the seven years of war in Syria, China has achieved a great leap in terms of the manufacturing of cars and Syrian people are turning to these products because they have noticed the quality of the cars," he said.
For his part, Amer Kharboutli, the marketing manager of E-motors, said the Chinese automobile industry has largely been enhanced and developed in the recent years, which is the reason behind Syrian people's growing preference for these cars.
"As Syria's car industry was affected by the crisis, Chinese cars have proven to be good alternatives and the people want new cars that have warranties and spare parts," he said.
Ren Min, regional marketing representative of the Dongfeng Automobile, told Xinhua recently in Damascus that ahead of the war, Syria was a very big market for the Chinese cars as Chinese brands have attracted great interest in the Syrian market.
During the crisis, the cars were imported as parts and assembled in Syria, he said, adding that more Chinese state-owned car companies have attached importance to the Syrian car market.
Unlike the Western companies that were strained after the sanctions, the Chinese car companies are offering technical support after purchase, he said, adding that Syria is still an important market for both the private and state-run Chinese automobile companies.
Besides cars, the Chinese products in general are well received in Syria.
Hashem Qasoumeh, who runs a company offering logistic service for imports and exports firms, said the business with China is so important for the Syrians.
"China is one of the largest exporters to the world and this is a very strategic point. Syria relies largely on China as 80 percent of the goods in Syria are imported from China including raw materials and products," he said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin visited the fair in Aleppo and had a tour in different pavilions.
He told Xinhua that "the opening of this fair is a clear evidence that Syria is returning to normal life and started recovering economically and socially. At the same time, China is interested in the reconstruction process of Aleppo and other Syrian cities."
For his part, Syrian Minister of Tourism Bisher Yaziji told Xinhua that Syria is building on the economic, social and political relations with China.
"The participation is extensive from all the companies and that is a strong indication of the recovery of the Syrian economy, particularly in Aleppo city," he said.
Aleppo was the industrial capital of Syria ahead of the war and after its liberation from the rebels in late 2016, efforts were exerted to reactivate the industries in the city.