A solid and reliable guide in Allepo
I can recommend a good guide/problem solver/ taxi driver, in Allepo. His name is Kalil, and you can reach him at
Some of these guys are shady, some incompetent. Kalil is solid and honest. He knows the city very well, and can take you on excursion out of town as well. He took me to an excellent Kebab restaurant, showed me superb baklava (called mahbouda in Arabic). You have both a taxi service and a guide in this man.
Even better, Kalil arranged for a service taxi for my return to Turkey overland. The driver he got was a total professional, unlike the journey in.
His rate was very reasonable and he is a warm and charming man. His English is so-so, but I did not find communication at all a problem.
You will find him a rare and valuable asset...the sort of thing that should not exist but does. He certainly enhanced my experience of Allepo.
Look up 1.
As you walk around the city, take time to look up at the buildings around you. Intricate woodwork on latticed Ottoman balconies, even when it is a poor state of repair, is a reminder of a bygone time when houses were separated into haramlek (for the women and family members only) and salamlek where guests could be entertained. Then the balconies served as the place from where, unseen from the street, the women could watch the world go by.
Study Arabic for non Arabian
Aleppo university now make courses for teaching Arabic for non arab people and it,s take 2 month per course , 8 hours per week and it,s cost 80-100$ and they teach puplic Arabic lang also . You can contact on Aleppo University Telefax :00963 21 2674505
web site : http://www.alepuniv.shern.net/index_en.php?pid=2
Historically, Syria included Jordan, Israel and Lebanon as well as the area now known as Syria. The country was in a top strategic spot, and its coastal towns became important Phoenician trading posts. Later, Syria was a pivotal part of the Roman, Persian, Egyptian and Babylonian empires. It finally ended up as part of Ottoman Turkey and, along with Lebanon, was dished out to France when the Turkish Empire broke up after WWI. The Syrians weren't too pleased with this arrangement (they had been an independent nation from 1918-20) and staged an insurrection in 1925-6, which resulted in the French bombing Damascus.
In 1932, Syria had its first parliamentary elections, and although the candidates had been picked by the French, they refused to accept France's proposed constitution for the country. In 1939, France granted Turkey the Syrian province of Alexandretta, further sharpening feeling against the imperial overlords. France promised independence in 1941 but didn't come through with it until 1946.
Civilian rule didn't last long in Syria: in 1954, after several military coups, the Ba'athist section of the army took over the country. The Ba'ath Party was founded in 1940 by a Christian teacher and was committed to a form of pan-Arabism under which Syria would forfeit its sovereignty. This led to the formation of a United Arab Republic with Egypt in 1958, but several people thought this wasn't such a hot idea, and another series of military coups trundled across the country. By 1966 the Ba'ath were back in power, but the celebrations were curtailed by the 1967 Six Day War with Israel and the 1970 Black September spat with Jordan. While everyone was otherwise occupied, Defence Minister Hafez al-Assad seized power.
Since 1971, Assad has held onto power with a mixture of ruthless suppression and guile. In 1992, he was elected to a fourth seven-year term with a predictable 99.9% of the vote. The lack of an obvious successor to Assad remains a glaring problem, but fears of growing instability were lulled in the early 1990s by Assad's astute exploitation of the Gulf War and improvements in the economy. During the war, Syria joined the anti-Iraq coalition, getting into the USA's good books in an effort to get off Washington's list of states supporting international terrorism. The main dissenting voice in Assad's hegemony has been the extremist militant Muslim Brotherhood, but in the first half of the 1990s, many of these were freed from jail or returned from exile. One can only assume that Assad no longer sees them as a threat. Culture:-.
You're unlikely to hear traditional Arab tunes on the streets of Damascus, but you will find an interesting hybrid of Arab-style singers backed up by orchestras of western and traditional instruments everywhere you go. Some of the favorite artists are Mayada al-Hanawi and Asala Nasri. The Bedouin are still hanging on to their musical traditions, with groups of men singing trance-like chants to accompany a lone belly dancer.
Visual art in the Arab world often means architecture, largely because Islam forbids the depiction of living things. Throughout Syria you will find some spectacular ancient and classical sites, with relics left by the Muslim caliphs, the Romans and the Byzantines. There are also plenty of religious works left behind by the Crusaders. The Qur'an is one of the finest examples of classical Arabic writing; the Al-Mu'allaqaat is an even older collection of Arab poetry. Toward the end of the 10th century, Syria was the focal point of one last great flash of Arab poetry - the most notable works of this era were penned by Al-Mutanabbi (who considered himself a prophet) and Abu Firas al-Hamdani. One of the best known works of Arab literature is Alf Layla wa Layla (A Thousand and One Nights), a collection of tales from several centuries and countries. Bedouin artworks include silver jewelry, colorful textiles and a wide range of knives.
Hospitality is a cornerstone of Arab life. It is commonplace for Syrian families, particularly desert dwellers, to welcome strangers into their home. The tradition developed from the harshness of desert life - without food, water and shelter provided by strangers, most desert travelers would die. Wherever you go in Syria, you are likely to hear the word, tafaddal (loosely translated as welcome) and you will frequently be invited into people's homes for food or a cup of tea.
Islam is the predominant religion in Syria. A monotheistic religion, Islam's holy book is the Qur'an, and Friday is its sabbath day. Every day, five times a day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques that dot the country. Islam derives from the same monotheistic roots as Judaism and Christianity, and Muslims generally regard Christians and Jews with respect - in Islam, Jesus is regarded as one of the Prophets of Allah, and Jews and Christians are considered fellow 'people of the Book'. Mohammed was the last Prophet, and it was to him that Allah dictated the Qur'an. Most Syrian Muslims belong to the Sunni sect of Islam, but there are sizeable Shi'ite, Druze and Alawite minorities. The Druze mostly live around the border with Jordan, and their beliefs are shrouded in secrecy. The Alawites, mostly found around Lattakia and Hama-Homs, are extreme Shi'ites.
Islamic law forbids eating pork and drinking alcohol, and this law is followed to a greater or lesser (generally lesser) extent throughout Syria. Islam also has a tendency to divide the sexes, and you might find that many eating establishments only welcome men. Most of these will, if asked, show you to the 'family room', an area set aside for women. When Syrians eat out, they will usually order group meals - a selection of mezzeh, or starters, followed by main meals to share. Arabic unleavened bread, or khobz, is eaten with almost everything. The other staples are felafel, deep-fried chickpea balls; shwarma, spit-cooked sliced lamb; and fuul, a paste of fava beans, garlic and lemon. Mensaf is a Bedouin specialty - a whole lamb, head included, on a bed of rice and pine nuts.
Al-Jdeida, the Christian quarter of Aleppo, is the nicest area to go to in the evening. It is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways. This is where you can find lots of small hotels and restaurants on converted merchants' houses. Most of the inhabitants are Armenians and Maronites and there are several Christian denominations' churches and cathedrals here, including Greek Orthodox and Syrian Catholic.