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Gold sales decline as prices soar in Syria


19:19, July 12, 2013

DAMASCUS, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Gold prices have recently reached a record high in Syria, yet the rise is nothing good for traders as it is accompanied by a drastic decline in sales.

One gram of gold was sold at 9,500 Syrian pounds Thursday, up from 7,600 few days earlier.

The increase was in pace with a steep depreciation of the Syrian pound against the U.S. dollar as one dollar was traded at 280 Syrian pounds Thursday, up from 230 Syrian pounds a couple of days earlier.

"We wished that gold prices had remained low so that production and sales could increase," Elias Malakiya, an official at the goldsmith association, told Xinhua in an interview.

"In the past, 100,000 pounds were more than enough to buy gold for a bride, but today she needs no less than one million pounds," he added.

There used to be a notable demand on gold when its prices were low, Malakiya said, adding customers used to flock to ancient al- Sagha market from all over the region to buy exquisite golden pieces that exemplified the best of Damascus craftsmanship.

But now, gold dealers complain that most Syrians have stopped buying gold and that the market is stagnant.

According to Malakiya, only five to six kilograms of gold was sold every day in the entire country, and that most of the purchases were made for the purpose of saving.

He also complained that about 20 percent of the gold shops have been shut down since the outbreak of the crisis in Syria more than two years ago.

In addition to the inflation brought about by the unrest, the ongoing world economic crisis forced dozens of small workshops in the gold industry to close due to high production costs and a falling demand.

"We are in a crisis and I wish we will get over it soon," he said. "When the dollar declines once again to 50 pounds, as it was before the crisis, the gold prices will come down and the demand will increase."

Malakiya said that the country would soon make its own gold pound that bears the Syrian national emblem (eagle). "We try to restore confidence to the Syrian gold and the Syrian pound."

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