What hope is there for Syria? Clues can be found in the story of the Syrian cloth merchant Abu Chaker and his success against the odds.
Barely literate, and supporting his mother and sisters from the age of ten, Abu Chaker built up a business empire--despite twice losing everything he had. Diana Darke follows his tumultuous journey, from instability in Syria and civil war in Lebanon, to his arrival in England in the 1970s, where he rescued a failing Yorkshire textile mill, Hield Bros, and transformed it into a global brand.
The Merchant of Syria tells two parallel stories: the life of a cloth merchant and his resilience, and the rich history of a nation built on trade. Over millennia Syria has seen great conflict and turmoil, but like the remarkable story of Abu Chaker, it continues to survive.
Diana Darke is an Arabic translator and cultural specialist who has lived and worked in the Middle East for over thirty years. She is the author of My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis (Haus, 2016). Her links to Syria are deep and ongoing.
Preface Introduction Chapter 1 The Mercantile Tradition Chapter 2 An Ottoman Inheritance Chapter 3 The Patriarchal Society Chapter 4 Childhood and Patriarchal Privilege Chapter 5 The French Mandate and the Great Syrian Revolt Chapter 6 Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage Chapter 7 Syrian Independence and the Rise of the Ba'ath Party Chapter 8 Early Business Ventures Thwarted by Politics Chapter 9 The Lebanon Effect Chapter 10 Expansion into Lebanon Chapter 11 The Commercial Climate under Hafez al-Assad Chapter 12 An Economic Migrant comes to Bradford Chapter 13 Bashar al-Assad and the Beginnings of Economic Liberalisation Chapter 14 Life in London as a Syrian Millionaire Chapter 15 The Syrian Revolution and the War Economy Chapter 16 Return to Homs and Final Displacement Chapter 17 The Merchant Legacy and the Future of Syria