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Experts warn against holding, purchasing collapsing Syrian pound - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An employee stamps stacks of Syrian pound notes at the Syrian central bank in Damascus April 23, 2013. (Reuters/Khaled Al-Hariri)

An employee stamps stacks of Syrian pound notes at the Syrian central bank in Damascus April 23, 2013. (Reuters/Khaled Al-Hariri)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Many Syrian traders have converted their Syrian pound-dominated assets to dollars for fear of losing their value, given the growing unrest in Syria and the destruction of its infrastructure.

The Syrian pound has lost 77% of its value since the crisis began, amid expectations of a nosedive that could push the exchange rate down to SYP 300 to one US dollar. Currently, one US dollar buys approximately a hundred Syrian pounds.

Economics expert Fadil Saad Eddin Boenin said that trading in the Syrian pound is similar to committing financial suicide, in the light of the economic collapse in Syria.

Boenin wondered why some banks in Saudi Arabia deceive naïve people by selling them Syrian pounds in the hope that they will generate huge profits. He said that these people run the risk of losing their money.

Many analysts and advisors recommend buying Syrian currency at the moment, in anticipation of a strong recovery should the crisis end.

“Unfortunately, this is not going to happen, given that all aspects of life in Syria, be they political or economic, are heading towards a complete collapse,” Boenin said, calling on competent authorities in Saudi Arabia to monitor the banking sector and issue laws banning such acts.

On the other hand, humanitarian aid workers for Syria warned Syrians who are in Saudi Arabia against purchasing Syrian pounds with foreign currency to send to relatives in Syria.

The aid workers explained that remittances from expatriates and other international money transfers denominated in US dollars and converted into Syrian pounds by Syrian central bank-monitored exchanges help the regime support itself financially at the expense of the wealth and savings of Syrian expatriates.

“The Syrian community in Saudi Arabia are between two fires: first, the collapse of the Syrian pound; second, having to transfer their savings in dollars so that they do not lose value, a thing which the regime depends on to strengthen its banking system, which is in a state of collapse,” Tayseer Kojak, one of the aid workers, informed Asharq Al-Awsat.

He also stressed the need for Syrian expatriates to refrain from buying Syrian currency, emphasizing that all money transfers should be made directly to their families and be only in US dollars, Euros or Saudi riyals. Otherwise, the Syrian regime will benefit from these transfers.

Abdulhalim Mheisen, another economics expert, advised Syrians living in Saudi Arabia to convert their Syrian pound-dominated assets into Saudi riyals in order to avoid heavy losses, given that the Syrian pound continues to decline against the dollar.

Syrian sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that food and fuel prices in the embattled country have continued to skyrocket.