Longtime UAE Ambassador appointed to Syrian post after 13-year absence

The UAE’s first ambassador to Syria in 13 years, Hassan Ahmad al-Shihi, assumed his post in the country’s capital on Tuesday, marking a significant step in the thawing of relations between Syria and the Arab world. This move represents Syria’s reintegration into the Arab bloc after years of exile.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad personally welcomed Ambassador Shihi to Damascus, signaling a new chapter in the diplomatic ties between the two countries. Shihi arrived in the country on Monday, and the UAE’s diplomatic mission in Syria was reestablished in 2018.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s visit to the UAE in March 2022 and the restoration of Syria’s membership in the Arab League last May highlight the regime’s efforts to rebuild international relations despite the ongoing civil war and past controversies. Assad’s participation in the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia further reflects the changing dynamics in the region.

Despite Western pressure and a brutal crackdown during the civil war, the Assad regime has been supported by Iranian and Russian military aid, enabling it to persist amidst the turmoil.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad meets with new ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Syria, Hassan al-Shehi, in Damascus, Syria January 30, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/FIRAS MAKDESI)