Thirty-seven years after the Suweida Craft Zone was established, craftspeople and manufacturers in the zone have yet to obtain title deeds for their so-called craft-plots.
The land allocated for the Suweida Craft Zone was first expropriated in 1962 and annexed into the Suweida city zoning plan that same year. However, the Craft Zone was not established until 1985. It then underwent two expansions, one in 1992 and the other in 2019. Today the zone is composed of 444 plots and covers an area of 29 hectares. Businesses there employ some 2,000 people.
The Directorate of Industrial Cities and Zones, which was established in 2004 as part of the Ministry of Local Administration and Environment, is the body responsible for regulating and servicing industrial and trade zones with infrastructure. That includes roads, electricity, water and sewage networks. Before the Directorate of Industrial Cities and Zones was established, such zones were under the purview of the councils of their respective governorates.
Many problems have blocked the issuance of title deeds to owners of plots within the Suweida Craft Zone in the past decades. The zoning plans issued in 1962 have become outdated and inconsistent with realities on the ground. There has also been continued informal urban expansion around the zone. Meanwhile, the standardised format of the plots was often unsuitable for certain professions, forcing owners of those plots to change their internal design throughout the 1980s and 1990s. These changes were considered a violation of the construction code for the zones.
A committee formed in 2018 to address these issues. Members included representatives from the Directorate of Industrial Cities and Zones, the Suweida City Council, the Union of Craftspeople in Suweida, and the Directorates of Finance and of Cadastral Affairs in Suweida. The committee studied the plots within the zone and drew up plans consistent with their current status. Afterwards, it made a topographic layout and confirmed the new plan. In accordance with the Suweida Governorate Letter No. 2385 of July 2018, that new plan was submitted to the Regional Committee to complete the approval process. Afterwards, the committee that was working to fix the Craft Zone issues in Suweida focused on addressing problems of formal division and ownership transfer for the plots, and put together title deeds for the owners.
Despite these efforts, more problems arose that slowed the approval process and the separation of the plots, as shown in the letters and memos exchanged between the Suweida City Council, the governorate council, the Regional Committee and the Directorate of Cadastral Affairs.
Amid this administrative labyrinth, the Suweida City Council formed yet another committee in 2020 to address the problems of the Suweida Craft Zone in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing and the Ministry of Local Administration and Environment. This new 2020 committee concluded that the main reason for the issues facing the plots was the expansion of the Craft Zone in 1992 and 2019, both of which were inconsistent with the main zoning plan outlined in 1962. A solution has yet to be found.