Damascus Local Customs

  • Local Customs
    by Robin020
  • Local Customs
    by Robin020
  • Local Customs
    by Robin020

Most Recent Local Customs in Damascus

  • mikey_e's Profile Photo

    Ottoman Engravings

    by mikey_e Written Nov 25, 2012
    Ottoman engraving on Azem Madrasa
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    Ottoman artists are renown for their architectural and design achievements. One such achievement is the use of calligraphy and its carving and etching into architecural monuments. There are plenty of examples around Damascus that exhibit the development and apex of this particular art, which is present across the Eastern Mediterranean from the Balkans to Egypt. Ironically, many of these inscriptions cannot be read today, as they are written in a script and language incomprehensible to modern Turks and alien to the indigenous people of the regions in which they are found.

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    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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    Tortured Politics

    by mikey_e Written Nov 24, 2012
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    It is by way of being a platitude to say that politics in Syria are a bit complicated. I visited the country in January 2011, two months before the outbreak of the unrest that would, eventually, lead to civil war. Then, there was a tense sort of calm that prevailed in the city: there were no protests, and the presence of danger was not immediate, but no one discussed anything too controversial lest they be overheard by the secret police. Today, the country lumbers on as all sides in the conflict trade allegations of war crimes and unholy alliances. While there are probably some topics that are newly permissible amongst the parts of the country under FSA control, there are still taboos. Talk of Israel as anything other than the eternal occupier and enemy is likely the norm. And discussing the benefits of alliances is always a tricky issue, as Syria is at the nexus of a number of regional webs of influence. As always, the best course of action to follow when in a tricky situation is to avoid entering into the fray.

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    Religious divide

    by mikey_e Written Nov 23, 2012
    Shia at the Sayyida Ruqqiya shrine
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    After the civil war that erupted in Iraq following the US invasion, the fact that there are two major sects in Islam – Sunni and Shia – is fairly well known throughout the English-speaking world. The schism stems, initially, from a dispute over the inheritance of the leadership of the Muslim umma, or community of believers. Sunnis opted for a restriction to the ashab, or companions of the Prophet, while Shia preferred to have a hereditary passage of the title. In the end, the Sunni candidate, Abu Bakr, was elected the leader following Muhammad’s death, but the Shia candidate, Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, did have his turn as leader as well. A variety of other differences arose over the ensuing centuries, leaving a massive cleavage in the community of believers. All this to say that what started as, essentially, a political dispute has given rise to a theological and cultural divide that is gradually shaping the course of 21st century history. The schism has produced a wealth of off-shoots and unique blends of ethnic and religious traditions, the diversity of which is on full display in Damascus. Here, pilgrims from across the Shiite world (but particularly Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan) flock to visit the shrine at the Tomb of Sayyida Ruqqiya, amid a city that boasts Druze, Alawi (a Shiite sub-sect) and Sunni communities, not to mention a dizzying array of Christian groups. Damascus has an important role to play in the power battles between Sunni and Shia before they became tinged with racial and ethnic tones (the majority of Arabs are Sunni, the majority of Persians are Shi’a). The city provides ample opportunities for engaged visitors to understand a bit better what drove and continues to drive this particular antagonism that is rending the social fabric of the Middle East.

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    Dressing up while entering the Mosque.

    by kharmencita Updated Jul 20, 2012

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    This is how u look like when you are in the mosque
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    This is how i looked like upon entering the Mosque. Everything is covered from head to feet. The neck, wrist and legs must not be seen so with the hair. The blouse must not be tight fitting or the pants too. They should be loose that the body figure can not be noticed by the others. Shoes must be removed when you enter. You can go bare footen or with socks. It is not respectful if sitting on a chair while praying because in mosques everbody knee-down while praying. So it is advisable to sit down on the matt or on the ground where carpets are spread all over. If you don´t have something to cover your casual tight dress you can borrow from the entrance of the Mosque.

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    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

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    Friendly and pleasant conversations with Locals

    by kharmencita Written Jul 19, 2012

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    educational conversation with a syrian Man.
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    I encountered twice pleasant conversations with the people of Syria. They are approachable, friendly and very good conversationalists. First I talked with fellow young students wearing uniforms. They were not shy. They were friendly, polite and self disciplined. We talked about their school system and the rest about school. Second I met a middle aged man who mentioned about his educational achievements. He spoke fluent English and friendly and preserve at that. He offered us Tea as symbol of friendship and respect to tourists like us. He said we are again welcome if we happened to come back to Damascus City.

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    Shopping

    by Robin020 Written Feb 11, 2012
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    Cham City Center



    The perfect place to relax with your family and friends ,Cham City Center . It has plenty to offer you- a choice of over 100 superb shops, restaurants, fast food outlets, a children’s entertainment center, Health and Fitness Gym, and Business Center.



    Located in the heart of Damascus, in one of the most beautiful and quiet residential region . in general ,you can reach Cham City Center from anywhere in Damascus in less than 20 minutes driving.



    Previously we were limited to small outlets, but now the city boasts the impressive Cham City Center mall, an international standard, family oriented retail and leisure facilities, established in 2006.



    Cham City Center is the most prestigious in the country so far It covers an area of over 80.000 sq .m. it comprises of 6 levels of retail ,dining ,entertainment outlets ,health club and more than 400 covered car park areas.



    Cham city center has more than 100 prestigious stores including the most famous local and International brands, where you have also a wide choices of restaurants , fast food and cafes.



    Cham City Center health club include a gym containing the latest model equipments , indoor swimming pool and spa . When you decide to runaway from your daily routines, you will not find any better place than Cham City Center.

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    Visa info

    by Robin020 Written Feb 11, 2012
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    Information on the visa) visa)

    First - General instructions for tourists visiting the country Syrian:

    Must be on the incoming Arab and foreign to be in possession of the following:

    1. A passport valid for a period of not less than one month after the expiry of the visa to be issued by a state recognized by Syria, and he does not have an Israeli visa, and not to be the name of the holder on the list of those barred from entering Syria.
    2. Entry visa or transit visa issued by the Syrian embassy or consulate in the country of origin of foreign or place of residence, visas are granted entry or transit by the Centers for immigration and passports at the border to nationals of foreign countries where there is no diplomatic representation in Syria and foreigners with permanent residence provided they show their residency cards.
    3. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions and exit visas for diplomatic and courtesy and task.
    4. Visa: It is of two types

    - Six months: valid for one or multiple trips can be an exception granted for one year.

    - Three months: valid for one time only.
    5. Transit visa: They are two

    - Three months valid for a single trip.

    - Three months valid for multiple entries.
    6. May include entry or transit visa foreign wife and minor children to be the names and ages in the space provided.
    7. A foreigner who wants to stay in Syria for more than fifteen days from the date of his entry, see the Department of Immigration and Passport Department or its branches in the governorates to apply for a residence permit
    8. Permission to stay directly to both the Arabs and foreigners born in Syria, and wives of Syrian nationals
    9. In case of loss or damage to the residence card holder to review the Department of Immigration and Passport Department in Damascus branches in the governorates, within three days from the date of loss or damage to give them a new card instead
    10. Permission is not granted a license to reside and work on those wishes to work in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic to obtain permission from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.
    11. On every Arab or foreigner over fifteen years of age and was recorded on a card and a parent to get a new card similar to an independent and parents in terms of type, duration, date, and the remaining fees regardless of whether a passport of its own.
    12. Not entitled to the Arabs and foreigners who have special or ordinary residencies absence abroad for more than six months.
    13. Not entitled to the Arabs and foreigners who have temporary residencies and an exit visa to return the country to stay outside for more than three months.

    Lebanese citizens should review the police station within six days from the date of entry into Syria to obtain an ID card to facilitate their stay and movement in Syria.

    Secondly - facilities and exemptions offered to tourists arrivals:
    1. Allows for Arab nationals to enter the Syrian Arab Republic and traffic which is the requirement to obtain an entry visa or transit is sufficient by registering assets "in the records of arrivals and departures after Touchih passports or travel documents or tickets Lebanese nationals who enter under the ID card or output is in the hearts of certified assets under the seal of entry or leave.
    2. "Foreigners coming to the tourism of the categories is listed under the books issued by the offices and travel agencies from the country coming from individuals or groups and overprinted seals these offices and under the passport mass stuck on it are granted or passport for each individual of them, on the condition that properly licensed tourist offices in diameter and depart on the responsibility and grant visas to those for free.
    3. Citizens of all Arab states, Gulf Emirates and Sultanates from entry and transit visas, residence permits and exit visas.
    4. Are exempted from duties:
    ¨ Foreign and Arab students officially registered in one of the recognized universities.
    ¨ clergy.
    ¨ experts and Arab and foreign contractors.
    ¨ journalists and correspondents of news agencies.
    ¨ Non diplomat workers in the political and consular organizations foreign and Arabic.
    ¨ The parents of the member of diplomatic or consular mission accredited in the country and his children and wife, brothers and sisters and his followers of governesses and servants.
    ¨ Palestinian refugees and their minor children.
    ¨ Foreigners and Arabs whom the director of the Department of Immigration and Passports Department exempt them for special considerations: courtesy, or lack of physical ability.

    5. Exemption of Syrian Arab citizens overseas foreign passport holders to obtain a residence and ask those who have not registered them up in the records of civil and subjected to an exit visa when they want to leave Bjoisathm foreign month after the entry after presenting the approval of recruitment for those who are of military age and identity card for those who exceed fifteen and assigning them to pay, scheduled to leave on departure like Syrian citizens and allows them to enter foreign Bjoisathm if the entry is stamped with features of the Syrian Arab missions abroad, and given the features needed by the Centers for free from the border.

    Facilities offered to investors:

    1. Raising the price of neighboring countries, translated in the bank to the equivalent of almost foreign markets.
    2. Increase the amount to be replaced from the remaining foreign currency with travelers when they leave the country and through / / 15 days.
    3. Exemption coming to the diameter of the push / 100 / USD and that the bank on the drawer taken from all comers.
    4. The bank is working on the completion of the credit cards.

    Customs Facilities:

    1. A foreigner to enter the gifts and personal effects and tools for travelers and intended for personal use without any customs duties.
    2. Allows car owners residing permanently abroad and coming to Syria with the intention of temporary residence and enter their cars nicknames registered lawfully in the country of exile under a power of attorney by using the driving tourist outside the country of registration of customs duties according to the following:

    · Fees due for the car under a temporary entry card for a period of / 15 / day of $ / 1685 / l. Q is switched equivalent amount of / 40 / USD or equivalent in other foreign currencies + / / 30 dollars for the obligatory insurance of car to be paid to the escrow company Syria.
    · Duties of the book granted to cars registered in the Arab countries / 5035 / l. Q switch is equivalent / 117 / USD or the equivalent in other currencies accepted + / 30 / dollar insurance company pay for mandatory insurance.
    · Allows for a wife or a family member or adult to bring a car to drive it in the Syrian Arab Republic provided they meet the conditions of residence outside the country.

    Health Regulations:

    1. Travelers coming from places infected by yellow fever when entering a vaccination certificate against this disease.
    2. Those wishing to stay in Syria for a period exceeding one year, free certificate of AIDS (AIDS).
    3. The tourist who brings a pet to accompany his health certificate in English authenticated in his country but for cats and dogs must be accompanied by a certificate of vaccination against rabies.

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    Some Syrian Mezze (starters ) or for breakfast

    by Robin020 Updated Feb 2, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

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    MAGDOUS

    Ingredients

    Eggplants
    Sweet red pepper paste
    Crushed walnuts
    Olive oil
    Salt
    Sliced garlic (optional)

    The stuffing
    Mix together the sweet red pepper paste with the crushed walnuts and the garlic.

    MOUHAMMARA

    Ingredients
    100 gr. bread crumbs
    50 gr. sweet red pepper paste
    10 gr. crushed dried hot red pepper
    20 gr. cumin
    40 gr. concentrated pomegranate syrup
    100 ml. olive oil
    100 gr. crushed walnut
    150 ml. water
    20 ml. lemon juice
    15 gr. sugar
    Salt

    VEGETABLES OMELET (EJJEH)

    Ingredients
    1 bunch of parsley
    7 eggs
    1 teaspoon of flour
    1 onion
    2 cloves of garlic
    1 teaspoon of dried mint
    1 teaspoon of dried sweet red pepper
    1 pinch of cinnamon
    200 ml. olive oil
    Vegetable oil

    EGGPLANT FATTOUCHE

    Ingredients
    1 kg. eggplant
    2 tomatoes
    1 onion
    1 bunch of parsley
    Lemon juice
    Olive oil
    Vegetable oil
    Arabic bread
    Salt

    MOUTABBAL

    Ingredients
    500 gr. eggplant
    1 green pepper
    1/2 bunch of chopped parsley
    4 branches of green mint
    150 gr. sesame oil
    1/2 glass of lemon juice
    25 gr. concentrated pomegranate syrup
    30 ml. olive oil
    1 tomato
    1 clove of garlic if desired
    some grains of pomegranate
    Salt

    BABA GHANOUGE

    Ingredients
    1 kg. eggplant (about 5 big pieces)
    Olive oil
    Garlic (optional)
    Lemon juice
    Concentrated pomegranate syrup
    Chopped parsley
    Pomegranate grains
    Salt
    OLIVE SALAD

    Ingredients
    250 gr. green olives
    60 gr. concentrated pomegranate syrup
    40 ml. olive oil
    2 green onions
    1 peeled tomato
    1/2 bunch of parsley
    Grains of one pomegranate for decoration
    Salt
    Branch of thyme for decoration

    FATTOUCHE

    Ingredients
    500 gr. tomato
    500 gr. cucumber
    100 gr. onion
    75 gr. green mint
    75 gr. purslane
    1 bunch of parsley
    1 lettuce
    2 cloves of garlic
    50 gr. of black olives
    1 lemon juice
    3 teaspoons of vinegar
    1 teaspoon of sumac
    125 ml. olive oil
    Vegetable oil
    Bread cut into triangles as desired
    Salt

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    Traffic at day and night

    by Robin020 Written Feb 2, 2012
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    In Damascus It is normal to hear car and taxi drivers use the car horn to push the other drivers in front to move further,even there is no traffic,
    So my tip is to make sure you have earplugs if your hotel is near high road to be able to sleep the drivers use horn 24/7 they do not care if people are sleep at night.

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    Smoke argila (shisha)waterpipe

    by Robin020 Written Jan 29, 2012

    In Syria smoking Argila is very common in daily life,there are many places and cafes that serve Argila s well.
    do not be surpised to see women in the cafes that also smoke Argila.
    Argila has various tastes ans smells from honey to apple to banana

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    Men holding hands are they gay?

    by Robin020 Written Jan 29, 2012

    Seeing 2 men holding hand in public Europe will indicate that they are gay couple, but that is not the case in Syria or in Midde-east in general. Men in Syria usually hold hands in public to express their frienship and show that they are close to each other even physiscaly nothing homosexual about it.even married men still walk hand in hand I find it it pure and simple and innocent and sweet as well is also very usual to kiss other man in public or house in his cheeks ofcours.Worth to mention that Syrian men are very flirty even if you are a male They still flirt with you.

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    Is it acceptable to drink alcohol? What about drug

    by Robin020 Written Jan 29, 2012
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    Is it acceptable to drink alcohol? What about drug use?

    Drug use is strictly prohibited in Syria, and carries very stiff penalties for usage or possession, and no distinction is made between “hard” or “soft” drugs”. If you’re carrying pot, weed, hash or marijuana for medical use or otherwise, do not attempt to enter Syria.
    Drinking Alcohol in public is unacceptable and not recommended (and sometimes illegal) except in tourist resorts like Lattakia. In all other cities, you can drink alcohol at the resturants or bars that serve it, as well as in private in your hotel room. You may bring alcohol with you to Syria, but maybe required to pay duty tax.
    Syria is not like Dubai you find alcohol ONLY in bars of hotels.
    in Syria you can purchase alcohol easily from liquor shops and bars as well.
    Bottle of Beer is is aboit half US dollars in shops,while 2 US dollars in bars..

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    When is best time to visit Syria

    by Robin020 Written Jan 29, 2012
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    When is the best time to visit Syria?

    - The best time to visit Syria is spring or autumn, as the temperature is in the mild mid 20s. Winter is too cold and Summer is probably too hot for all but the most hardy traveler, add to that frequent electricity and water shortages during the hot summer months.

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    Internet and Netcafes

    by Robin020 Written Jan 29, 2012
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    Internet

    Syrians has easy and cheap internet access. Internet is very common around the cities at internet cafes. since the Syrian upraising and crisis that started january 2011 most of Facebook and YouTube have been blocked and monitored but there are still some websites unblocked. The cafes are very friendly but in order to avoid being price gouged it is best to ask a local how much the internet costs per an hour before agreeing to sit down. It is usually 50 S.P per hour (1$ US),

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    Wasta

    by Robin020 Written Jan 26, 2012
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    Wasta is a word often heard in Syria. It is Arabic and translates as something like authority, influence, political (or other) power, connections, or a combination of those terms. In practical terms it means that some rules can become more flexible if you have wasta, or know someone who has wasta. Also, a bit of wasta can smooth or speed up business transactions, bureaucratic issues, and other official procedures. At its best (or worst, depending on your point of view), a good dose of wasta could keep you out of jail or save you from other unpleasant consequences of dubious activities.

    The common English expression "it's not what you know but who you know ... " is a rough equivalent of wasta.

    On the wasta scale (not that there is an official one), things that can make a difference in the Syria are your nationality, your profession, who you work for, who you know, your political position in the country, your connections to people in positions of authority. Money and how long you have lived in the Syria don't usually directly affect your wasta level but indirectly they do since longer term residents may have built up a larger network of high-wasta friends, and rich people often associate with other rich people who may be high-wasta individuals.

    Many expat residents learn about wasta through a driving experience. In simple terms, the more wasta someone has, the less likely they are to cop a fine and/or be blamed if there's an accident. Wasta can result in some unusual situations for example, green lights were actually red when you went through them because the person who crashed into you had enough wasta to change the color retroactively. Indications of higher levels of wasta on the road are dark tinted or mirror tinted windows (30% maximum is the law so anything more than that means it's likely they have enough wasta to get around this rule), number plates with fewer than 5 digits (but anyone can buy them now if they have enough cash so it's not as good an indication as in the past).

    Wasta is something that many expats, especially westerners, find difficult to come to terms with but you'll find it easier to enjoy Dubai if you get used to that rather than try to fight it. And of course it helps if you can elevate your own wasta level somehow.
    Wasta and Bribes

    Don't confuse wasta with bribery. If you try to bribe a government official, for example a police officer who has just pulled you up for driving though somebody's garden, you should expect to be punished fairly harshly for trying to bribe them. And if the owner of the garden that you drove through has some wasta, then you'll probably be even worse off. In the business world, things may operate a little differently. Just as anywhere else in the world, the negotiation of business transactions and contracts is not always done on a level playing field, and bribes ... er gifts ... might be part of your discussions with interested parties.

    Wasta also means to pull some strings. is widespread in Syria and bribery as well under Syrian baath party.

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Damascus Local Customs

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