Asma al-Assad is the current First Lady of Syria. She is the wife of the 19th and current Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. Born to Fawaz Akhras, a cardiologist and his wife Sahar Akhras, a retired diplomat, she was born and raised in London. She graduated from King's College London with a bachelor's degree in computer science. Assad had a career in investment banking and was all set to begin her MBA at Harvard University when she got married to Bashar al-Assad in 2000. Following the wedding, she quit her banking job and has since remained in Syria along with her husband and three children. As the First Lady, Assad has played a key role in implementing governmental organizations involved with economic and social development throughout the country under Bashar's governance which came into a halt due to the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. Assad, who is active on Instagram, continued to update her social media profile with posts related to her community service activities.
Career before Marriage
After graduating from King's College London in 1996, Asma began serving in the Deutsche Bank Group as an economics analyst. In 1998, she joined J.P. Morgan’s investment banking division where she worked in a group specializing in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
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Service as the First Lady of Syria
In December 2000, Asma Akhras married Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, and became Asma al-Assad. As the First Lady of Syria, she travelled throughout Syria to about 100 villages to strategize her future policies. She went on to create numerous organizations under the Syrian Trust for Development, the charity sector of the government. Some of these organizations are SHABAB (business skills for youth), FIRDOS (rural micro-credit), RAWAFED (cultural development), BASMA (helping children with cancer), the Syrian Development Research Centre and the Syrian Organization for the Disabled, to name a few.
Syrian Civil War
A serious blow has been dealt to Asma al-Assad’s public image since the Syrian Civil War intensified in 2012. She was criticized for remaining silent throughout the beginning of the revolt. The First Lady issued her first official statement in the media in February 2012, almost a year after the first serious protests.
In March 2012, the European Union froze her assets and banned her from travelling in the EU. She is still able to travel to the United Kingdom because of her British citizenship despite being banned from entering the rest of the European Union.
Since July 2012, the First Lady had not been seen in public, giving rise to speculations that she had fled the country. However, she made a public appearance on 18 March 2013, at the Damascus Opera House, refuting the rumors. As of November 2016, she continued to update her Instagram handle with pictures of her being engaged in community services.
Asma al-Assad was born as Asma Akhras on 11 August 1975 in London, the United Kingdom to Fawaz Akhras, a cardiologist, and Sahar Otri, a retired diplomat. She studied at Twyford Church of England High School and Queen's College, London. Later, she attended King's College London, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science as well as a diploma in French literature in 1996. The Frist Lady has three children with her husband Bashar al-Assad: Hafez, Zein and Karim.