The Syrian government on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the trade centre, which will be built at a cost of $120 million by Tiger Real Estate, part of the Tiger Group based in the emirate of Sharjah, the Gulf News said.

The English-language UAE daily quoted Tiger Group deputy general manager Saleh Shereen as saying the company had received government approval for the first of five projects.

"It includes the construction of the Damascus World Trade Centre, a five-star hotel, a shopping mall, residential and office towers, terraces, restaurants, theaters and associated structures," he said.

The group, owned by Syrian expatriates, will set up a company in Syria to oversee the project, Shereen said.

The Syrian Investment Office licensed the venture, a first such move as Damascus begins to woo foreign direct investment, the paper said.