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The Syrian town of Aleppo is famous for its laurel soap. But since the war reduced the city to ruins, the vast majority of its 50 factories have closed. Now the soap is being manufactured 4,000 kms away, on the outskirts of Paris.
Franco-Syrian businessman Samir Constantini began importing Aleppo soap more than a decade ago, mainly for the French market. When his supplier's factory in the ancient Syrian city was destroyed, he invited the master soapmaker, Hassan Harastani, to come and make the soap here in France. Using the same recipe and thousands-year old savoir faire, they now produce four tonnes a week. Their company, Alepia, supplies the French, Spanish and Polish market, and has its sights on Asia.