Some of Syria's wealthy businessmen have expressed interest in rebuilding their country REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
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The destruction of Syria looks as total as in any civil war of the last century: Whole towns have been leveled, road and water links severed, schools and hospitals in ruins, millions of people killed or exiled and the $60 billion economy left for dead.Only the most optimistic diplomats see an imminent end to the war in Syria.Asfari has been an outspoken critic of Assad while Kuzbari once had business ties to the ruling family. Asfari declined requests for an interview, while Kuzbari said he stands ready to invest in the "humanitarian aspect" of rebuilding Syria.Since protests against Assad, 50, descended into war in March 2011, at least 280,000 people have died, half the Syrian population have fled their homes and about $80 billion of wealth has been erased, according to a World Bank report in April.Asfari said the only solution in Syria is a long transitional period, one without Assad in power.A Damascus native, he left Syria as a youth to study engineering before returning in the 1960s to take over his family's second-generation paper business, now called Vimpex.He left Syria in 1988 for a job in the United Arab Emirates that included a house, a car and 2,000 dirhams ($540) a month.Three years later, he started his own business, building small structures with shops on the ground floor and housing units on the first before growing into a company that includes real estate, contracting, hospitality, industry and education units.
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