President Asad passed a law in March 2002 allowing the establishment of private banks in Syria as part of the process of economic liberalisation. The prospect is most attractive to Lebanese banks since a significant proportion of the $41,000 million deposited in Lebanese banks comes from Syria (MEED 12:4:02). At the outset, the foreign banks will only be allowed to perform retail banking activities but this could later be extended. ‘They will not start as universal banks, but their activities will widen,’ said Rifai. ‘They will crawl, walk, then run.’