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Assad: Syria's leader makes historic visit to UAE


Syria's president has made his first trip to an Arab country since the Syrian civil war began 11 years ago.

Bashar al-Assad arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday, and met several influential and controversial rulers who signalled a willingness to strengthen ties with Syria again.

It marks a potential warming in Syria's relations with its Arab neighbours, which had previously isolated Mr Assad.

But the US criticised the trip, saying it was "profoundly disappointed".

Among the Emiratis Mr Assad met was the billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, who has been embroiled in a number of controversies recently.

One of his 25 children, Latifa, has previously said she was being held hostage and feared for her life after trying to escape Dubai in 2018. And late last year, he settled a £500m ($660m) divorce case with one of his six wives, Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussain, who fled to Britain in 2019 and spent huge sums on personal security after receiving threatening messages and having her phone hacked, according to court documents.

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