Israel’s proposal to develop further settlements in Jerusalem was met by harsh condemnation by the United States, its long time unconditional supporter, the most outspoken being Secretary of State Mrs Hillary Clinton. Recently, Mrs Clinton reiterated the U.S.’s condemnation of the new Israeli proposed plan during a conference on the Middle East in Moscow. Relations with the U.S. have also worsened due to a comment made by a relative of the Israeli prime minister who called upon President Obama as being anti semite. A quartet made up of Russia, European Union, the United States and The United Nations has been constantly condemning Israel’s recent moves to set up new housing developments in Jerusalem.
Israel is adding these new tensions to its other troubled relationship with Turkey, which, due to disappointment over non E.U. integration has been shifting its policy of alliances closer to the Arab world.
All these new developments and indirectly and silently been providing a protective cushion for countries such as Lebanon and more recently Syria, which has been making efforts to improve relations with the U.S.A.. As early as January 2010 US has named an Ambassador to Syria, the first in over five decades. LEBANON’s economy has been one of the least affected in the entire Middle East region, mainly due to its strong banking sectors. An increase in the number of foreign travellers especially from the GCC Gulf countries as well as a booming real estate sector have also been benefiting the growing luxury market in Lebanon, the past 6 months seeing the opening of many monobrand shops such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Dior. Four Seasons opened a spectacular luxury hotel in Beirut in January this year, following the opening of the first luxury boutique hotel, The Gray, in the capital city of Beirut. A five star resort of Kempinski is currently under construction in Beirut.
A similar, yet slower in pace, development can be noticed in SYRIA, a long time black sheep of the Middle East, especially due to its alleged close ties with Iran and terrorist organization Hezbollah an alleged involvement in Lebanese ex President assasination. However, young President Bashar al Asad has made historical steps towards international reconciliation by building a close and strategic partnership with France, its key new ally in the E.U. as well as the United States, which earlier this year appointed an Ambassador to Damascus in a very long time. The recent crisis in Dubai as well as growing concerns over the state of the economies in UAE and Jordan, have been helping Syria attract investors both from the GCC coutries. In particular, Syria’s luxury market has had a steadily growing development with over 10 luxury hotel projects currently in construction (international chains such as Kempinski and Starwood) and luxury retail, especially jewellery and cars. Luxury fashion and accessories sector also presents exceptional opportunities, CPP is currently reviewing two luxury shopping galleries in the capital city of Damascus.
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