Monday, March 19, 2007

What on Earth is going on?...


Does anybody know?.. Has anybody heard?..
I have only heard rumours...
I heard that there is some hideous plan to demolish yet another part of Old Damascus.. And another part of my heart will be wrenched out ..
Tales of woe of all kinds have been flying across the Syrian Blogsphere.. Souq Al-Manakhliyyeh.. King Faisal Street.. Threats to demolish old houses and bulldoze ancient shops.. Families will be homeless, small businesses uprooted, a City raped, and a tranche of our City's history lost forever..
They say that a certain Syrian 'entrepreneur' has got his eyes on the priceless real estate market in that area of town.. The potential for 'property development' is, clearly, enormous, and I have no doubt that certain quarters within the Syrian Regime would give their right arm (correction: OUR right arm!..) to get their filthy paws on our beautiful heritage.. They say that the Authorities claim that this is done for the betterment of the City.. They say that this is done in the name of progress.. but since when did we start calling rape and destruction 'progress'??..

So who should I believe?...

One of the problems of living abroad is that you rely on second-hand reports on certain issues.. Your ability to develop an informed opinion depends on the authority, credibility, and authenticity of such reports.. What you read and what you hear will shape your views.. and on this particular issue, I am unable to find anything that I can reliably use to form such an opinion... Nevertheless, I feel an unmistakable air of trepidation.. an overwhelming sense of doom...

I urge anyone with any information on this matter to disseminate such knowledge as widely as possible.. As many people as possible need to be involved, if our heritage and our beautiful City's history were to have any chance of survival..

12 comments:

I love Munich said...

URGENT recommendation: you may want to get in touch with "abufares" (http://abufares.blogspot.com/)! His e-mail is "abufares@bigfoot.com

He's an architect, a great friend, living in Tartous and either does aware or -upon inquiring - will certainly be happy to help you out!

I can well understand your feelings ... and your deep concern! I'm crossing my fingers ...

yaman said...

Hey, here is some information about this issue:

http://www.syria-news.tv/readnews.php?sy_seq=49301

http://amarji.blogspot.com/2007/03/dying-of-old-damascus.html

I love Munich said...

P.S.: Another way to find out ... you may want to contact Sara, who's a very dear friend as well! She lives IN Damascus and should definitely know!
Her blog: http://stellar101.blogspot.com/, her e-mail: stellar101@gmail.com

GOOD LUCK!! :-)

Omar said...

unfortunately my friend, this plan is true.. no one know if and when it is going to be in effect (since it obviously raised a lot of concerned voices) but it's part of what's been labled as "beautifying Damascus" which involves destroying old structures of the city in the name of creating more green (non-functional) spaces.. thus a big slice of old mezzeh is turned into useless open areas, the manakhlieh is gone and King faysal is on the way, so a in-city wide street would link the center with the Bab Touma area (it will be a continuatioin for the victoria street right now.

This is part of an urban plan laid out in the 20's by a French urban planner called Ecochard, who's idea of modernizing the structure of Damascus was in drawing straight-lined roads over the old street, disregarding the ruins, the old houses, and the spirit of the city..
this is how (Al Thawra street) came to life but cutting Saroujah in half... and even though the French government refused his plan back in the 20's, we had no shame in bringing the plans back on the table, ignoring all the concerns about the decay of the last inhibited ancient city in the world..

but again, you need to love the city to care about it.. you need to feel like a son to her, and appreciate what it is and what it stands for.. but once plans are made and put into execution by bitter individuals who couldn't care less about the history and the integrity of this amazing city, in exchange for dollars and pounds.. then all doesn't matter.. contempt and blind greed is stronger than anything else.

I just hope that the Unesco's effort to dodge this one would succeed... cos I don't think there's hope in an internal solution for this problem... they turned a blond ear before and there's no reason why they should start caring right now..

abufares said...

Syrian Brit / Karin

I couldn't add a single meaningful word to what Omar wrote above.
My personal battle was and still is my city of Tartous. When I wrote: "Urban Nightmares" I indicated that the mayhem has reached all Syrian cities. Damascus, in particular, our pride and joy, is suffering from immense socioeconomic pressures. As if that weren't enough, it has been inflicted by moronic visionaries (I'm sorry to even use the word since they have no vision beyond accumulating money, money then money).
Damn it, if they only pursue their weird dreams where lives and heritage is not affected.
Damascus needs to impose very restrictive zoning and planning policies. The old sections of the city should be preserved, yet not suffocated with stupid senseless rules and regulations.
The problem I'm afraid is Humnan Greed, followed closely by inhuman folly.

Wassim said...

This is horrendous and stupid.

KJ said...

"Destruction from without begins with destruction from within"

Fares said...

I love your posts SB. Unfortunately, no protest seems to matter when it coems to Syrian policies and plans. The society needs to wake up which is not happening!!!

Abu Kareem said...

SB,

You have already found my post on the same topic, so I just want to add my voice of support here too.

Abu Turath said...

Damascus is one the most historical and beautiful cities in the world.

It is sad that the 'progressive' and 'revolutionary' Ba'aath Party is following the footsteps of the Saudi 'wahhabi' regime who have destroyed most of historical Makkah and Madinah because!!!!

اسفرجل said...

Syria's News at
ESFARJEL
http://esfarjel.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Iurge you hands off the old great city DAMASCUS MY LOVE