Tag Archives: Souks


The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to be Syria and those in the country out by commercial media. Please ask your government for more information.

Syria has more than its fair share of important historical sites. The ancient cities of Damascus, Aleppo and Bosra are all listed on the World Heritage List as a stunningly beautiful city is the ruins of Palmyra. Mighty Crusader castles, labyrinthine souks of medieval jewelry, like the houses of Damascus and sacred Umayyad mosques are just some of the delights on offer, there are many more for those who are willing to look. Best of all is the fact that these monuments are often part of the fabric of everyday life – the cult of the local mosques, shopping in markets, drinking tea houses and picnic in the ruins. And travelers are happy to be added.

Speaking of picnics brings us to the piece de resistance when it comes to a Syrian and Journ – food. The national cuisine is simply superb, so come with a big appetite. You are required to be filled in many ways when they finally tear away.


Tartus, Syria’s second port, is a small, ungainly that it is unlikely to set pulses racing, but what makes for a visit pleasant overnight. Main attraction of the city are the compact remnants of the Old City (known by the Crusaders in Tortosa), a fascinating little maze. There is also the island once fortified Arwad, located offshore a few miles and arrive by boat or water taxi. Syrian Tartus love for its beaches, but visitors brave enough to pick through the trash in the sand and swim to take into account the occasional dribble of sewage into the sea.


Looking at modern Qatar, is easy to imagine the great Oriental scholar, Edward Said, turning in his grave. Nineteenth-century Western travelers in the Middle East was in search of an imaginary Arabia. When they could find, which describes an East who thought their readers prefer reality. Even today, it is tempting to go for these stereotypes and Qatar has its share: rock paintings bear witness to human endurance in tune with the adversities of nature, strengths, alluding to the ruins of the empire, and occasionally goat hair Bedouin tents to suggest the ‘noble savage’ nature of life in the desert.

Qatar has spent his energy (and considerable fortune) in setting aside the stereotype, however, and demonstrating that these “Orientalist” flights of fancy are more a product of the fevered imagination of the West of everything related to the East. To this end, vertical great “pleasure” domes of the postmodern variety have been erected in Doha to show that the country is as international as any. At least that was until recently. Suddenly, the wind tower developments such as Al-Sharq Village Resort & Spa claiming to be “genuinely Arabic ‘corridors’ old’ Al Souq Waqif sports, tented accommodation in Khor al-Adaid comes with air conditioning.

Qatar, in other words, seems to be reinventing himself in the image of the fantasy of “otherness” of the West. For the visitor, which is wonderful: everything you imagined of Arabia is there in all its splendor sterilized. To those who knew the hawk Qatar’s souks and dust storms, however, it is suspected that this country is becoming Disney.
It is strange to see a great city in making these days. It would be wrong to represent New York Doha as a latter-day New: most of the new development has a heart, but has not yet acquired a soul. But that will come as more people in Doha, fascinated by the coverage he received during the Asian Games in 2006 and bringing with them the environment that puts the “city” in buildings. Or should be buildings with capital “B” to these new goliaths capture the intangible sense of growth and prosperity, optimism and vision when walking by the old souks and malls alike new, or see Doha families strolling the grounds of luxury resorts in the city. “Watch this space” could have been a good motto for Doha a few years ago, “enjoy this space” is probably a better motto for today as the city begins to fill his shoes, leaving a lot of great green spaces to start your own.