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Ribal al-Assad (born 4 June 1975) is a syrian businessman and political activist. He is the Founder and Director of the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria (ODFS) and the Chairman and Founder of The Iman Foundation.
Early life and family
Ribal al-Assad was born in Damascus, the 13th of 16 siblings. He is the son of Rifaat al-Assad und his third wife Line Al-Khayer, sister in law of the late Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, and is thus a member of the al-Assad family. His father, a younger brother of the late President Hafez Al-Assad, was a powerful security chief and commander of the Defense Companies, who was responsible for the 1982 Hama massacre. After attempting a coup d'état, he and his went into exile in France. Ribal, at the age of 9, and his family then moved to Paris, where he continued to live until the age of 16. At the age of 16, Ribal al-Assad began High School in New York and Houston, before joining university in Boston.
He is now managing export-import between China and the Arab world.
Ribal al-Assad speaks Arabic, French, Spanish and English fluently. He is married to Joanna Al Assad.
In 2006 he became director of the London Bureau of the Arab News Network (ANN), a familyowned television channel. Founded in 1997, it was the first Arab News satellite TV channel. After he left ANN he founded the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria (ODFS) in 2009 and became its director. The organization did not spring into prominence until 2010, when the Independent Newspaper journalist and Middle Eastern commentator, Robert Fisk interviewed Ribal al-Assad.
Ribal has been critical of the Syrian National Council since its inception. He has pointed-out how it has been overwhelmingly made up of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were not elected through a democratic process but hand-picked by Turkey and Qatar. He has also been critical of the Free Syria Army (highlighting how it was made of Islamist extremist groups) and its Supreme Military Council (saying how it was exclusively made up of Salafi Extremist groups).
The Iman Foundation
Ribal al-Assad’s work as Chairman of the Iman Foundation has focused on promoting interfaith and inter cultural dialogue and challenging extremism across the world. The organisation is not-for-profit and is committed to "promoting inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, intra-religious dialogue and challenging extremism and promoting mainstream voices".
- Shmuel Bar: Bashar’s Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview. In: Comparative Strategy. 25, 2006, Special Issue, p. 381
- "Al-Assad's cousin weighs in on Syrian war". MSNBC. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
- WorldsApaRT (2015-02-19), RADICAL CHANGE? (ft. Ribal al-Assad, Director of the Organisation for Freedom & Democracy in Syria), retrieved 2016-01-29
- "In Richmond, cousin of Syrian president calls for U.S. and Russia to destroy ISIS". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
- ODF- SYRIA (2013-10-05), Ribal Al Assad on BBC Newsnight, retrieved 2016-01-29
- "The Iman Foundation". iman-worldwide.org. Retrieved 2016-01-29.