Majid Al Futtaim Properites, part of the Dubai-based construction company Majid Al Futtaim Group, has announced plans for a huge investment in a mixed-use leisure area 17 kilometres from the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The 1 million-square-metre site will result in an investment worth close to $1bn and will include tourism, shopping and entertainment facilities such as a shopping centre, hotels, restaurants and commercial office space.

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The project is expected to be completed by 2014.

Syria has made a concerted effort in recent years to diversify its foreign investors, and obtain more FDI from Western nations. However, despite its attempts to liberalise its economy, the country's foreign investors remain predominantly from the Middle East.