Al-Qaeda experts believe that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has been in a parallel transformation, which is not restricted to the theological mindset as the former al-Qaeda affiliate is founding its own economic hub in northwestern Syria.
Besides the local governing body in Idlib city, named the Salvation Government, Tahrir al-Sham has established local companies that control the fuel market and public investments. The most remarkable one is Namaa company which is run by Tahrir al-Sham’s Public Institution of Cash Management (PICM).
With a capital of over $10 million, local investors are no longer capable of competing with Namaa company that plans to offer its shares for trading at $100 per share.
The rising company is being compared to Cham Holding Company, one of the Syrian regime’s largest businesses that was established a decade and a half ago to attract foreign investment.
Despite being newly established, the company’s main fields of investment generate immediate profits, such as the fuel trade, achieving net profits equivalent to $600,000 in less than 2 months.
The company’s board of directors decided to pay cash dividends to its shareholders at a rate of 6% on the face value; that is $6 per share.
The company credited its exceptional profits to an increase in fuel trade and in transaction costs, which boosted the company's operating revenue and thus increasing the percentage of profits.
Namaa Investment Company brands itself as “the largest Syrian joint stock and investment company in the liberated north, with a capital of $10,000,000.”
It operates in several investment and commercial fields, such as fuel, undertakings, construction, real estate, importing goods, establishing companies, financing deals, among others, which according to the company’s management would achieve a satisfactory profit for its shareholders.
Namaa is expected to achieve an annual profit of 20% to 30% by the end of this year.
The PICM announced Namaa Investment after several successful projects it has established during the past 3 years, such as Al-Khair Fund with a return of 29%, Namaa Fund with 20.5%, and Al Baraka Fund with 44%, according to the company.
An investor in the construction field said to Iqtisad that if Namaa enters the field of tenders offered by humanitarian organizations, which it as well have already, then it will “pull the rug from under everyone.”
“There is competition from Tahrir al-Sham in all fields to the point that most of us are worried that in the future will be unemployed,” he continued.
Another investor expressed his fear for the coming days that, according to him, will be difficult for everyone working in trade and construction. “Dozens will be jobless because they simply can’t compete. The market is small and can be flooded with a few million dollars.”
Others believe that whoever wants to complete has only one option, and that is to enter into a partnership with the local authority in the region, which will diminish the profits.
Chairman of Cham Holding, Nabil al-Kuzbari, said 14 years ago to Al-Baath newspaper that the company “will be a respectable and bright interface for modern, developed Syria. It includes the elite of successful Syrian businessmen and will operate according to international standards and principles, with absolute transparency and within the law.”
In its announcement, Namaa Investment said that the company “comes as a continuation to management of the investments of the PICM, by offering promising companies and executing successful projects.”