16 July, 2012

As Syria burns, Assad's British-born wife goes on £270,000 online shopping spree and imports chandeliers, rugs, sofas, tables and ELEVEN ottomans from London

As Syria burns, Assad's British-born wife goes on £270,000 online shopping spree and imports chandeliers, rugs, sofas, tables and ELEVEN ottomans from London

Asma al-Assad, 36, placed the order with exclusive London store DN Designs in the King's Road, Chelsea, West London
Among the 130 items were 11 ottomans costing over £20,000, a dining room table priced at almost £10,000 and a rug worth just under £11,000


Big spender: Asma Assad lavished £270,000 on furniture as her country descended into civil war

She has been dubbed the Princess Diana of the Middle East, combining beauty and style with tireless charity work.

In a region blighted by dictatorships and conflicts, the First Lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad, was billed as the modern and caring face of the Arab world.

But emails obtained by WikiLeaks show Mrs Assad, 36, spent £270,000 buying furniture from an exclusive London store for one of her presidential palaces last March – as Syria was descending into a bloody civil war.

British-born Mrs Assad sent her order – which included five chandeliers costing £8,800 – to upmarket furniture store DN Designs in the King’s Road, Chelsea, West London.

The emails, seen exclusively by The Mail on Sunday, emerged as more than 200 people were believed to have been massacred by government forces in the village of Tremseh last Thursday.

It is estimated that more than 16,000 have been killed in Syria since the uprising began last March, including women and children caught in the crossfire between government troops and rebels.

But as innocent civilians were being killed, the emails show that Mrs Assad did not drop plans to refurbish the summer palace, where she and her husband go to escape the scorching desert heat.

Mrs Assad – who was once described by Vogue magazine as a ‘rose in the desert’ – took personal charge of furnishing the palace in the coastal town of Latakia, 200 miles north of the capital Damascus.

The full scale of the palace, which offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, is unknown, but based on the order Mrs Assad placed, it has a grand entrance hall on the ground floor with an adjoining reception room.

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On the first floor, there is a dining room that can seat at least ten people, as well as a majlis – a traditional Arab room that is used for entertaining guests – and a salon or drawing room.

Mother-of-three Mrs Assad also ordered furniture for two family rooms, a basement hall and a ladies’ lobby.

Bloodshed: A Syrian woman, cries as she carries her injured son who was shot in his hand by the Syrian border guard when they were crossing a river from Syria to Lebanon

Violence: Flames and smoke raise from burning cars after two bombs exploded, at Qazaz neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, as the country descends into civil war

On March 2, her aide Mansour Azzam, who works in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs (MOPA), sent an email to Mrs Assad with a quote for all of the furniture she had ordered.

Among more than 130 items, whose prices are given in US dollars, are 11 ottomans costing over £20,000 in total.

For the dining room, Mrs Assad ordered a round table worth almost £10,000 and, for the majlis, she purchased a red-and-green Mamlouk rug for just under £11,000.

Mrs Assad, who grew up in Acton, West London, also bought a ‘hanging rod with nine silk lanterns’ worth £3,000 for the basement hall.

The emails show that the First Lady, who married Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in 2000, was kept up to date on how the furniture was being laid out in the palace, with her aides taking photographs and emailing them to her.

Last September, as international condemnation of the Syrian regime grew and sanctions were imposed against the country by the US and the EU, Mrs Assad was still preoccupied with her furnishings.

Asma Assad spent £270,000 on furniture from the exclusive West London shop, including items similar this ottoman

Concern: Aides kept Mrs Assad up-to-date on the whereabouts of her furniture order, leaked emails show

In an email sent to Mr Azzam on September 23, she writes: ‘I forgot to mention, the sofa below should have the same number of back cushions as bases.

‘At the moment, there are three base cushions on the main sofa (without the extension) and five on the back.

‘It should be three base and three back. If not clear, let me know.’

The First Lady uses an email account belonging to her husband’s department, MOPA. In the emails, she is sometimes referred to as ‘Mrs Assad’ but mostly as ‘Your Excellency’.

Revelations: Emails show that the First Lady, left, who married Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, right, in 2000, was kept up to date on how the furniture was being laid out in the palace

She also signs off some emails as ‘aaa’, which is thought to stand for Asma al-Assad.

An earlier release of emails from Mrs Assad, in March, revealed that she was looking for a Harry Potter DVD on the internet while her country was in turmoil.

Though a Muslim, she went to a Church of England school, where she was known as Emma.

After studying computer science and French literature at King’s College London, she worked as a banker at JP Morgan in the Nineties when she met her future husband.

At the time, Assad was training at a hospital in London to become an eye surgeon.

Last week, we revealed how British peer Lord Kenilworth was paid more than £170,000 to redesign the gardens of the summer palace.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2173705/Asma-al-Assad-As-nation-burns-Assad-wife-imports-sofas-London-270-000-spending-spree.html#ixzz20m3EgfH6


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