Syrian businesspeople in Turkey do not want to be treated like ‘refugees’

Syrian businesspeople in Turkey do not want to be treated like ‘refugees’

Zeynep Bilgehan - GAZİANTEP
Syrian businesspeople in Turkey do not want to be treated like ‘refugees’

AA photo

Syrian businesspeople, who have recreated their companies in Turkey since 2012, have complained about being treated like “refugees” by some circles, adding that, although they were happy, it was not easy to do business in the country.

A Syrian businessman, who had to move to Turkey from Aleppo after his factory was bombed out, said he started from zero.

“After we had figured that the war would not end soon, I have come together with other board members to review business opportunities in Egypt, Lebanon, Greece, Romania and Turkey. We decided that Turkey was the best place for us. We are happy with our decision,” said Saad Chouihna from Saadplast. 

He noted that their revenue has reached $1.5 million so far. 

“We export to 10 countries and we create jobs for both Syrians and Turks,” he said, adding that it was not easy to launch a company in Turkey. 

“However, when you achieve to establish and run a business here, you can do this anywhere in the world,” he added. 

Chouihna noted that he could not visit many Arab countries due to his Syrian nationality, adding that he also faced problems with lenders. 

“Not all Syrians are refugees who need help. This misunderstanding has blocked Syrian investors from working,” he added. 

Dozens of Syrian businesspeople launched business associations in Turkey. One of them is the Syrian Businesspeople Association (SİAD), which has 230 members. 

SİAD President Khaled Bablli said Turkey was close to Syrians’ hearts, but it was not easy to launch a business in Turkey. 

“For that reason, we started our association. Our aim is to boost ties between businesspeople and to introduce our goods and services both in Turkey and Arab countries,” said Bablli, who used to be in construction business before, when he lived in Aleppo, but now lives in the southern province of Gaziantep. 

He noted that many Syrian businesspeople launched carpet factories with their Turkish counterparts in Gaziantep, which is famous with its traditional carpets and shoe-making businesses. 

“We brought the rush mat industry, which was very common in Syria, to Gaziantep. Now there are around 20 companies which are active in Gaziantep,” he added. 

According to several Turkish businesspeople living in provinces along Turkey’s border with Syria, where the share of the Syrian population is very high, Syrian companies have created unfair competition, while others see them as “brothers.”