Beit As Sibai, Damascus
A fine example of traditional Damascene houses, Beit Siba'i dates from the 18th century. Architecturally, it might also be considered the purest Syrian form, not too different from Azem Palace, applying polychrome stripes and geometric circles, and absent of Ottoman and European influences evident in many other palaces. In the 1950s, it served as the residence of the Belgian consul. On my first visit to Damascus in Dec 2006, Beit Siba'i was open to visitors and in a fairly good state of preservation, having been restored in the 1990s by the Syrian government. Since 2008, Beit Siba'i has been undergoing yet another restoration project, funded by the Aga Khan Foundation, supposedly to convert it into a luxury hotel (the same is happening to the neighbouring Beit Quwatli and nearby Beit Nizam).
Beit as-Sibai was built asa merchant's house between 1769 and 1774. It was later used as the German ambassador's residence. It is now owned by the Syrian government and there are plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.