Hammam Yousef | Architect/Designer Czech Republic
August 30th, 2007

Re: ‘Syrian expatriates

I remember that getting contributions from us bloggers to write about this topic took a long time, and I like to see that as a sign. The total contributions were 4 in the beginning, and after a while and due to a kind of motivation Majhool submitted his. Keeping in mind that this topic was voted highest (I voted for it my self) the number of contributions makes us wonder! Or maybe we really wanted to listen more than that we have something to say!

Are Expats really able to cooperate in order to help build a better Syria? It looks we need first to be able to organize and join forces before we can achieve that goal.

If we think of Expats as a sample for Syrian society, what is to be discovered? The answer will be‚?¶ we tend to be lost in words and eventually abandon ship when we feel challenged, which might be the case of Majhool since he clearly expressed his mind. But what is really his point and can we gain him to our side, knowing that he represents a considerable section of Syrian Expats?

We have to acknowledge that we have different viewpoints, and respect them as they are, then move on to what really matters‚?¶ our common goal. But wait!… do we really have one?

I say, we as humans tend to follow our interests. Expats also have the same tendency : ) if I want to help building a better Syria, I need to see what will I gain out of it, or at least, I wouldn‚??t want to lose more than what I‚??ve already lost‚?¶ my homeland. So the question is‚?¶ WHAT IS THERE FOR EXPATS TO GAIN?

The argument that we should think of what can we do for our country instead what can our country do for us, is little‚?¶ sacrificial in nature! Why should Expats sacrifice?!

And here I remember an idea, that Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Sheikh of Dubai, once said that he will make his Emirate an attraction for his citizens, that they wouldn‚??t have to go any where else, for living vacation business or entertainment! It worked! And as a result‚?¶ Dubai, is not an attraction for it‚??s people only, but for all people all around the world! Now give me that environment (which is not flawless, I admit ) and you will get my cooperation energy and skills with pleasure.

Some might argue that there are a lot to be done in UAE, I say‚?¶ as a young country compared to ancient Syria, they are doing an impressive steps forward.

What the Syrian regime, in its current structure, can offer to Syrians/ Expats is‚?¶ FEAR! Even the false feeling of security in Syria is built on it, the fear of harm that this regime can cause to them‚?¶ actually it is the only currency that this regime is using all along, whether internally or externally!

With That said, lets now put the regime out of the equation‚?¶ because, unless the regime is ready to change and try to reach a common grounds with all the players, expats will find them selves on the side of ‚??Opposition‚?Ě no matter what they did to deny this fact.

Eventually all their good-intentioned productive and helpful efforts, will only expose how lousy the regime is doing, and this ‚??in the eyes of the regime- is ‚??Opposition and they will be treated as enemies or collaborators with an enemy‚?¶ remember Buthaina‚??s WORDS during the so called ‚??elections.‚?Ě

For the regime it‚??s ‚??either with us or against us‚?Ě there is no other option, even for those who think that they can negotiate with them.

Now that expats are on their own, as they always were, the thing they can do is LOBBY‚?¶ for them selves, for their families/friends back home and for their country, within which they hope to thrive and realize their dreams‚?¶ and AGAINST dictatorship and corruption.

Another thing they can do is ‚??as many have already mentioned including my self- to start some kind of NGOs that constitutes a bridge the rest of Syrians can cross to a better future‚?¶ also an example I‚??ve suggested in the comments is an ‚??expat Satellite channel‚?Ě that serves as civilized platform for all Syrians no matter what background they came from, which sect they belong to, or what faith they follow‚?¶ people in Syria need to see an example of how we all can coexist and cooperate for our mutual interests, for a great country, a country for us all.

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9 Responses to the Article

Hammam Yousef Says:

Alex my dear,

I’m 97.62 % sure you gave my humble words this high vote, thanks… you have what it needs to be a good diplomat. ūüėÄ

Alex Says:

lol! … I just did. The first one was not mine.

Zenobia Says:

well i gave you a high vote too……for coming out with it…better late than never…

and…for pointing out that so many of us voted for this topic and then found it hard to put together a coherent piece.
myself, i had many things to say after all….but they were disjointed and not so cohesive as one big message.
I feel that during the dialogues on the different essays, we all find out ..and discover what it is we actually have strong feelings about.

I think in the beginning everyone voted for this topic so strongly because on its face it is obviously important, and also, we know that there should be things to say….but it is was rather unformed.
I found the essays..initially… a bit floundering and grasping for an argument. I think only Abu Kareem had a sort of well defined speech. But in the end, after dialoguing… it appears that there are many different expat issues going on at the same time… some related but many unrelated sub-issues.
Do we have a common goal? I think so. I think everybody wants improvements in Syria… and the question is…do expats have a role in making that happen…and how much of a role….and is this a gift or is it a responsibility?

you seem to think that there must be some explicit benefit to the expatriot in order for them to want to contribute something.
I think Alex might be a good example to challenge that assumption, as someone who spent enormous amounts of time producing Creative Syria… (a definite contribution) without a concrete benefit coming in return.
Yes, i believe many expatriots will be motivated soley in terms of benefits that they can then experience and take advantage of. But…I disagree that this is the only motivation. I think there is something about homeland…. or even ancestoral land…in my case … that generate powerful feelings and hence desires to contribute to the betterment and preservation of that land.
Pride, nostalgia, obligation, responsibility… not everything is a selfish motivation…
but alas, i am really sounding fluffy and sentimental…so i had better stop this train of thought…..

Hammam Yousef Says:


…. ūüėÄ


you better pay attention to the fluffiness epidemic, it is said that it spreads unnoticeably! ūüėÄ

‚?¶ What is hominem? Couldn‚??t find it in dictionary :)

Zenobia Says:

‘Ad hominem’ is latin for something like ‘against the man’… and it is a type of logical fallacy in which the offender attacks the person (the man) instead of the argument or the idea… attempting to win an argument by attacking the person or their credibility. But it is considered a form of bad and false reasoning.

Hammam Yousef Says:


Thanks, and right on the spot… many times I feel arguments go in that direction. We really have to work on it.

Alex Says:

Hammam, Zenobia makes me regret that I studied engineering. We managed to graduate while using about 100 English words.

abu kareem Says:


I think that (most) expatriates are not looking for something in return but want to make sure that any contribution (money, intellectual, other) is put to good use and not wasted and not use for the government’s self-promotion.

As for the issue of lobbying, who exactly do we lobby: the US government? Europe? our Arab brothers? If on the other hand, we form an expatriate group to lobby the government, a good idea in principle, the government will surely limit what you can lobby for. There will be clear red lines which you will not be able to cross without the government accusing you of being in the opposition. So forget about topics like good governance, accoutability, individual rights.

The SAC was a good idea but there does not seem to be a consistent and coordinated effort (from I saw) to keep it going and a timid showing among expatriates at its meeting. As I said elsewhere, this timid showing is because any expatriate who has still has family in Syria will be fearful of public discussions about any substantive issues.

Hammam Yousef Ŕ?Ŕ?Ŕ?ōßŔ? Ŕ?Ŕ?ō≥ŔĀ Says:

I am not against Lobbying any one who can lift the pressure off the Syrian people, within the limits of not sacrificing them in the end!

I don’t feel Expats are a homogenous mass, they are as diverse as the Syrian society itself‚?¶ which means, we have to lobby them first!

Anther thing, if Expats keep their focus on smaller achievable issues, as Alex is suggesting, they might be able to reach some results. This might not be satisfactory to many, especially to those who are more focused on real reforms or even regime change. Those too, can lobby for their goal at the same time.

In the end, the real change can happen from within the country, any other option is a lot more difficult, what we can do is help them ‚??Syrian people- help them selves.

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