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Showing posts from July, 2007

A Tartoussi in Aleppo

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I went through the olden swivel door and left the dusty cobblestones behind. My eyes didn't adjust to the dimmed lighting before the short dark corridor gave way to a foyer open to the sky above. I stepped back in time and into the small lobby of the Hotel " Martini Dar Zamaria ". I was greeted by a friendly smile from behind the reception desk which simply washed the weariness of the 3-hour drive away. Since I had to go back on the streets again for a full day of work, I couldn't take in the whole ambiance. However, a sense of an overwhelming peace made me reluctant to leave. Later on in the afternoon, as the heat finally dragged my stamina and spirit down, I incessantly glanced at my watch. I was longing to head back to the hotel, to shower, take a short rest then night-walk the alleys of the Jdaideh district of Aleppo . Zamaria is an old Arabic house, converted into a small 22 room four-star hotel. From the outside, its faceless facade fails to register any im

She Did It!

The morning started off anxiously. The Bakaloria exam results in Syria were due later on in the afternoon. I was away when, as my wife puts it, I should be home sharing and going through the anticipation, the agony and suspense before the final grades are published over the Internet. Well in self-defense, I was in Aleppo for a 48-hour business trip. Yet, I had such a good time, Om Fares almost succeeded in making me feel guilty. The official announcement in the papers stated that the results will be posted at 4:00 PM, Monday 16/07/07. Over 140,000 Syrian families collectively held their breath. Overnight the Internet became the most popular source of information in the country. Since the early morning hours, kids, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, friends and neighbors simultaneously and continuously directed their browsers to www.bakaloria.com . With an already anecdotal service, the net was brought down to its knees. At 4:03 PM, as I was driving back to Tartous and a few kilometers

Behind the Closed Doors of the Syrian Open Market

As Syria ploughs forward in its own version of an open market economy, certain positive and negative consequences are inevitable. My highly subjective article is not concerned at all with the role of the government. Whether Syria, on the political and administrative levels, is doing the right thing is not my field of specialty. Instead I want to handle a few particular facets in this transformation. I want to shed my own light, knowing full well the biases inherent when one follows his instincts and private observations rather than empirical research, to answer some seemingly innocuous questions. Have the average hard working bread winner's conditions improved today from what they were a few years back, when Syria was still shackled by the obsolete restraints of an archaic ill-implemented socialist economy? Is the Syrian Middle Class better off economically, assuming of course that it still exist? Are Syrians, in general, happier, healthier and wealthier? Finally, it is my intentio