Bear in mind that in Syria They speak Arabic.
They have different letters They write and read from right to left,Here are some handy phrases and words (pronounciation) :
Hello : Marhaba
How are you : Ki fak
I am fine : al hamid lil lah
Thanks very much : shokran ktir
you are welcome : Afwan
Money : Masari
far : ba'eed
Near : Areeb
Nice : Hilo ,Jamil
Delicous : Laziz
How much : b'kam
Why : Lesh
Size : Qiyas
Taxi : taxi
Yes : Na'am
No : La
Please : min fadlak
what's your name? :Sho ismak ?
My name is Robin : Ismi Robin
where are you from? : min wen inta ?
I am from Holland: Ana min Hollanda,America,Britania etc
Arak عرق is the traditional drink in Syria.~50%-63% Alc. Vol./~100-126 proof
The taste of Arak is very close to the taste of Raki
Arak is a clear beverage that is made from grapes.
The Arak (Araq) is a very strong beverage with more than 40% alcohol so beware !
You can drink the Raki alone but you can also add water or ice and the Arak changes the color to a white or pearl.It served with salad or snacks.
Be aware that haggling down the price of any thing you buy,The seller,vendor mostly raise the price because the vendor knows very well the buyer will try to haggle it down. It is part of the culture,cloth,taking a taxi,souveniurs,even the hotel price...etc from 20% to 40%.Do your best ;)
Coffee is an art. Different places have different ways of making and serving it.
In a restaurant we were served by a 'awi' [magician], who made a great todo over serving the cofee. he was dressed in traditional clothes and was quite a character.
If you come here, forget the frase"no,thank you I am on diet..Iam full ect".People are really hospital and they call you at their houses for dinner or coffee all the time,even if it is the first time they meet you. And the best part is that there is nothing to worry about.You can go and feel like your home!
Syria is a Muslim country and therefore Damascus has many mosques. religious Muslims must pray 5 times a day (called the salaah).
The imam of the mosque called the muezzin, climbs to the top of the minaret (tower) and call for people to pray.
The call to prayer can be very loud, guaranteed to wake you up unless you are a very heavy sleeper!
Make sure your hotel is far from a Mosque
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.
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.
As Islamic countries go, Syria is a fairly relaxed place, maybe due to the large Christian minority. However, to avoid offending any Muslims you meet, here are a few tips....Shake hands with men, but not with women, unless they offer you their hand. Don't bring any food to your mouth with your left hand, and offer someone something with your left hand...the right hand is used for eating, the left is used for something completely different!! Don't sit with your legs crossed, as showing the sole of your foot is rude. If you are invited to someone's house, take your shoes off if you see that your hosts have taken theirs off. In mosques, take your shoes off to enter the prayer hall. It is better to visit mosques outside prayer times, and be careful about taking pictures of people praying. With pictures, many Syrians love having their photograph taken, and will ask you. But there are always some (especially women) who will object...always ask first before taking people's photos. In Damascus, I noticed that some Christian Syrians objected to being greeted with the Muslim greeting 'as-salaam aleikum', so if you are unsure about someone's religion, stick to 'Marhaba' or let them greet you first and copy. In Ramadan, during the day when Muslims are fasting, don't eat or drink in the street (although this doesn't really apply to the Christian areas of Damascus, where during Ramadan people tend to eat in the street more than normal!!!).
No-one (male or female) wears shorts in Damascus. Women need to cover up, but don't need to cover their hair. There are no set rules, and you can wear what you want, but if you wear tight and revealing clothes, you'll get a lot of unwanted attention, and (depending on what you wear) you might offend a lot of people too. Dress modestly...shirts (with sleeves for women), trousers/jeans, etc... I have seen many tourists not following these simple guidelines, the worst being a group of Australian girls dressed as if they were on Bondi Beach, moaning about all the attention they were getting. Basically, just look around and see what Syrians are wearing...it makes sense, too, to dress similarly, because then you can visit mosques without worrying if you are suitably dressed.
Women observe strict rules about dress, but nobody ask you, woman, to cover your body from head to foot , unless you are going to visit the Great Mosque. Just few meters from the main entrance there’s a small office were women can (well, they “must”) hire the “brown clothes”. Although I hate brown, I was comfortable in that stuff; I didn’t feel “out of it” like sometimes happens..
place des martyrs is the place where the israeli spy elie cohen was hung to death in public.He gave a lot of information to israel concerning the military syrian plans to attack israel from the golan.he succeeded to live around syrian personnalities in damascus,saying he was a wealthy argentinian born in syria
Mate in Arabic (mati)is south American drink but very popular drink in Syria,
Is drunk with Massasa (strow )and hot water.
Those who share the mate join in a kind of bond of total acceptance and friendship.
some of the benefits of drinking yerba mate tea.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Yerba mate tea is very high in antioxidants; it's got about 90% more antioxidants than green tea. Yerba mate has significant immune boosting properties. It can slow the signs of aging, detoxify the blood and prevent many types of cancer. Yerba mate also helps reduce stress and insomnia.
2. Enhances Your Ability to Focus
Proponents of yerba mate tea say that the minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, animo acids and polphenols found in this beverage have a balancing effect on the caffeine it contains. Users report increased mental energy, clarity and focus, but they also say that yerba mate doesn't cause any of the uncomfortable side effects associated with drinking caffeinated beverages, such as headaches, stomachaches and jitters.
3. Enhances Physical Endurance
The chemical compounds and nutrients in yerba mate tea affect your metabolism to make your body use carbohydrates more efficiently. This means you'll get more energy from the food you eat. You'll also burn more of the calories your body has stored in fat cells as fuel when you drink yerba mate tea regularly. Regular yerba mate consumption also helps keep lactic acid from building up in your muscles so you can decrease post workout soreness and cut your recovery time.
4. Aids Digestion
The native peoples of South America have long used yerba mate tea as a traditional herbal remedy against digestive ailments. Yerba mate aids digestion by stimulating increased production of bile and other gastric acids. Yerba mate helps keep your colon clean for effective and efficient waste elimination, and helps reduce the stomach bacteria that can contribute to bad breath.
5. Helps You Control Your Weight
Native South American peoples have traditionally used yerba mate as part of a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and exercise. Yerba mate has stimulant qualities to help you feel full sooner after you begin eating, and it slows your digestion so that your stomach stays full longer. Combining yerba mate with a healthy diet and regular exercise can help boost your metabolism to burn more calories, and it can help you eat less by curbing your appetite slightly.
6. Supports Cardiovascular Health
The antioxidants and amino acids present in yerba mate help fat and cholesterol move through your bloodstream so that they don't accumulate on artery walls. Yerba mate also helps prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and prevents blood clots that may cause heart attack or stroke.
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.
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),