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A Different Love Story

He has always been attracted by arithmetical calculation. The attraction has recently taken Hafez al-Assad – the son of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – to Romania. The north-western Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca hosted the 59th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) from July 3-14 and the 16-year-old Hafez was one of the participants in the event.
Upon his arrival in the south-eastern European country, Hafez said that he wanted to take part in the mega event as a common participant. He was against enjoying a ‘special status’ as the son of a president.


Hafez al-Assad

Head of the local School Inspection Office Valentine Kubus said that 615 participants from different countries took part in the event and Hafez was one of them. He also said that the Syrian shared the hotel room with 17 other participants in Cluj-Napoca. According to Kubus, Hafez had requested the organisers not to arrange a separate room for him.
Meanwhile, Hafez informed the press that ‘mathematics’ is his ‘childhood love’. As he failed to perform well in Rio de Janeiro last year (finished 528th among 615 participants), the teenager wanted to give his 100% in Cluj-Napoca. He further said the world should know that people from a war-torn nation could perform well at international level.
The concerned authorities in Romania had strengthened security for Hafez. When asked whether the organisers faced any problem because of Hafez, Kubus stressed: “We faced no difficulties.


Hafez with his father in 2012

Earlier, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis had inaugurated the event. Speaking at the opening ceremony, he highlighted the importance of education in the development of the future generations. “I believe that mathematics and the subjects of the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are essential in the curricular construction, ever since early education, if we want to have genuine knowledge societies in the future,” said the president. “The more effective and more adequate education systems we have for the new generations and societies which we want to live in, the more we contribute to peace and world development,” insisted President Iohannis in the presence of Hafez.

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