what can be done to save the remaining parts of al-Ghotah?


photos from Slunfeh

click click.. Damn this things that only break when you are most in need for them

the batteries has run out just in the second I was suppsed to take the photo of the group I was with in a trip to Sulnfeh.

There on top of Nabi Unos (Nabi Younes) mountain I was thinking that I need to see the view from another place, a place that will not call on me when I don’t have the energy to respond, or which I can feel a sense of achievment when I have finally reached it.

the trip has been decided in the last minute and I had to borrow half of the fees, for me it was a signal that it will only carry me to a half-nice place with a not full experience, which turned out to be the case till I had that moment, the moment of the group photo.

I was dwelling on the way back, but I was not yet ready to call this a misgiving, I wanted to feel the way I I let go and on the way to the bus I took in the air and started refreshing my energy. an hour and a half later I was having lunch in a resturant on the sea side in Lattakia, Elissar its called, and the day just moved ahead in a ever gray hue.

All in all I loved this trip, I liked the scenary and enjoyed the company of the group, I know I’ll come back some day, and my loneliness wil be kept away.

The sea view was magnificant and the breeze lovely but the reflection of the years had its looming presense and I needed to go back inside.
I felt free in this place, like the wild horses running around that I spotted on the maasser up the mountain, as the music and the flashs of light came dancing around me in the DJ party the day before where I had my almost free scotch and as the way opened up ahead in the evening sitting in bus on our way back home humming  my favorite old songs.

on a lighter note, I wanted to point out just how beautiful  Slunfeh is. being one of the natural treasures of Syria, its forests of pure green and ancient houses is beyond imagination. here are some photos:(click to enlarge)

general view

Nabi Unos mountain

the valley

Sea in Lattakia

Turning a blind eye no more

As more buzz awaits the city, the streets bustle with activity

From new construction projects to a modern transportation system, as well as regulations to regulate a smoking ban, the people of Damascus are asking many questions about the way things are being handled and the prospects of things to come.

For someone living in Damascus and cares about it, I surly have something to say about this subject.

This emerging activity is part of an increased  development momentum that has seen the signs of  a renewed interest in modernizing  infrastructure as well as investments geared towards  enhancing the environment, which is a very pressing issue for the government right now.

The idea is that a premature and ill-planned jump into the unknown,will be inevitable as decision-making is still in the hands of very few people who are coming up with a lot of grand schemes but have no vision concerning the end result .

take for example the new Syria Towers project.

there is much to be said concerning the validity of such a high rising structure amidst a sea of poorly planned buildings and a congested area.

I wonder whether or not there is something concrete for such a project on a large-scale to be base upon (and pun intended!)

I am all for a modern and a vibrant trade/finance/residential/whatever center, but I want to point out the fact that this project will be just another eye sour for us (the Four Seasons Hotel comes to mind!)

my view point is that the existing area should be a starting point for an integrated and well-planned scheme for development for the whole city, it  is most suitable to serve as a connecting point and has a strategic location near the SANA building, and is centered very well near all the important areas of Damascus, so why not have a full-fledged scheme for turning this area into a well-planned and developed urban center with a vision of a town down, isn’t this better than just constructing a skyscraper for the sake of  it!

Legacy of the past..promise of the future

..we say that:
Our beloved Sham has been a home for years uncountable.
Our beloved Sham has given us the old city which is the oldest inhabited city in the world.
Our beloved Sham has endowed us with the ever enchanting Barada river.
Our beloved Sham has offered us the gorgeous Qasioun Mountain.
Our beloved Sham has been, is and will be a true and extraordinary example of mutual coexistence of various people belonging to diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities.
The list goes on and on.

well, I say..
and what do we have to do in return?

well, I only can speak for myself. for me the answer is not easy.
..and the moment will come when we start to realize that we have been murdering our city in the name of love of “Sham” and that is precisely the moment we realize how much we owe it to our city to open a new page together to return the favor of this great home!

My thoughts for the coming stage

For any development to happen in any city, first we should have a basic ground to build upon it.
To lay this ground we ought to be aware of our strengths and weaknesses.
I think we have to cast a vision of urbanism on Damascus. (what a heavy phrase!, but I didn’t find any other, suggestions,anyone?:))
seriously, we should think of Damascus as a city. try that for a moment…think. of. Damascus. as. a. city, a. “madinah”


the building units for a new reality for Damascus to be reborn as a modern city will have to draw on our already existent strengths which are enormous. We have talented professionals in almost all fields: architecture, engineering, fine arts, scientific research and so on.
we have energy and people who are willing to start projects on their own, I mean: we don’t need any foreign firms to build our buildings or power plants or even our cars and that is in principle and practise and I am pretty sure you agree with me on this..

Now we also have to deal with our weaknesses and the most important weakness that we have is that we don’t take the first step. and that’s it. that’s the only weakness point we have, believe it or not:)

what should be done?

I think the way forward is going to be full of exciting work and cooperation. I am really hopeful that the people will take charge, which will pave the way to realizing (sooner rather than later) our desire to break out of the state that the city has been subjected to for the past decades and open the doors for a new era for all of us to part of something totally new and exciting, called the city of Damascus:)

today’s news

The news should be fresh, relevant and have a personal touch..those are the kind of citizen journalism that blogs all all about, so here are some as an attempt to kick off something to that end on the Syrian blogsphere (ambitious? I already know that:P):

– The 7afryat ( tunnel construction work) at the Kafarsouseh roundabout are still going on with much vigor. the neighborhood seems to be suffering from noise and pollution (smoke and noise pollution).

– As art exhibition abound all around the city, you’ll have to be carefull in choosing the really good from the ordinary. head for the Finnish Institute for a really interesting one.

– On the political side of things; no real news could be found. and I’ll leave it at that:D

Damascus popular hangouts

groups of young people are filling the streets, they pass you by talking in a care-free manner..a sight not usually seen in Damascus before.

While I was in a couple of art galleries I managed to look for what is it that bring people together and how the art scene can bring young people out and create a space for having conversations and and exchange that was difficult to have before.

yesterday I made a comment that sparked a debate. it was in a screening of a film in a cultural center.

Today I have nothing particularly interesting to do, I am thinking of continuing my journey into song writing and maybe calling my friend to have hot chocolate in Chocolate Bar.