Aleppo shop owner struggles to adapt after business shut down

CCTV News

syria-shopowner

Aleppo was once the economic hub of Syria, but most of the city’s businesses have closed since the war broke out four years ago. Many shop owners there are now struggling to adapt.

CCTV’s Xu Dezhi reports.

Aleppo shop owner struggles to adapt after business shut down

Aleppo shop owner struggles to adapt after business shut down

Aleppo was once the economic hub of Syria, but most of the city's businesses have closed since the war broke out four years ago. Many shop owners there are now struggling to adapt. Ahmad Kamel Shayyah, used to be a wedding dress shop owner. When the crisis hit Aleppo, the old market became a war zone. The day he closed his shop is still embedded in his memory.

Ahmad Kamel Shayyah, used to be a wedding dress shop owner. He started his career at 14 in the souk. Though sales volumes were small, wedding dresses were still very profitable, he said.

When the crisis hit Aleppo, the old market became a war zone. The day he closed his shop is still embedded in his memory.

“In 2012, I left my home and my shop. I left my home on Aug. 15, 2012. Then I went to the countryside of Aleppo and moved to other places in the following year,” Shayyah said.

After leaving the old city, he tried to get job at different places and relied on generosity of others to cover expenses.

About a year ago started a new business with very little money selling clothes on the street.

“The difficulties in life push you to do anything. When you are in need and you have a family and rent to pay for, you’d better do something instead of just asking people for money.” he said.

More street hawkers are selling clothes, he said. About 90 percent of the hawkers in the relatively safe area of the city where he sets up shop used to be shop owners in the old city, he said.

Shayyah said that the income from his business covers half of their expenses, but only when there is no bombing.

“We are easily affected by any incident because people are afraid of going out for shopping,” he said.

He said he isn’t disputed that he no longer owns a shop.

“I’m not ashamed of this. On the contrary, the only shame is to wait for others to help you. I now consider myself a self-employed person and I’m proud of myself,” he said.