The 6th session of the Damascus Insurance Forum, organized by the Syrian Insurance Federation, kicked off on Tuesday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus. The Forum, held in cooperation with the General Arab Insurance Federation (GAIF) and the Syrian Insurance Supervisory Commission (SISC), aims at developing the insurance market in the Arab world through dialogue and exchanging expertise. During the opening of the Forum, Caretaker Minister of Finance Mohammad al-Hussein underlined the considerable growth witnessed in the insurance sector in Syria in terms of quality and quantity, with insurance premiums tripling since 2006, amounting to around USD 500 million in 2010 with 31.5% growth from 2009. Al-Hussein noted that health insurance premiums amounts to SYP 3.5 billion (USD 74 million) in 2010, marking a growth of 424% from 2009, mainly due to providing health insurance to state workers, adding that this increase will help improve medical services and the health sector in Syria. He pointed out that the Syrian insurance sector was unaffected by the global economic crisis during 2010, and that the SISC reconsidered the insurance market regulations to open up new investment opportunities for insurance companies and reduce fees in order to have insurance cover as many people as possible. In turn, Chairman of the Syrian Insurance Federation Suleiman al-Hasan underlined the importance of Legislative Decree No. 43 issued recently by President Bashar al-Assad, which entails covering pensioners with health insurance. Al-Hasan said that the Federation is working to find solutions to the obstacles hindering the development of the Syrian insurance market, in addition to opening regional offices, organizing training courses, and exchanging expertise with international institutes. For his part, Secretary General of GAIF Abdelkhaleq Raouf Khalil called for establishing an advanced legislative environment to help the insurance sector to prosper in the Arab world, in addition to boosting awareness of the importance of insurance by benefiting from international experiences in this field and expanding services. Khalil also reviewed the recent achievements of GAIF, which include establishing the Arab Insurance Institute and forming associations for insurance laws and insurance agents. A documentary on the development of the Syrian insurance market was screened during the opening of the Forum.