Friday, April 3, 2020

Ode to Damascus

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jan 25, 2020 as "Ode to Damascus".   It may seem like an unlikely holiday destination, but as peace returns to Syria, the struggling nation hopes tourists will too. By Chris Ray Tourism in Damascus, Syria Nour Neema at the Sah al-Naum hotel, which she manages. Credit: Alex...
First published in Middle East Eye, 26 May 2019 The capital's green spaces symbolise how many are trying to revitalise the environment amid the blood of war. By Alex Ray in Damascus 26 May 2019  Fareed Notafji sips the sweet, strong labourer’s tea as we sit in front of the guard shed at the SEA Environmental Garden in Damascus. When people pluck these flowers, it’s...
From 'Beloved Syria', Second Edition, 2017 In 2009, Bruce Petty – a political satirist, cartoonist and filmmaker - included Damascus on his list of cities to visit for a documentary film project, a follow-up to his 2007 film Global Haywire, for which Bruce won the AFI Best Documentary Director prize. I had met Bruce at the Melbourne Writers Festival the...
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In September 2019, Rasha Milhem - Syrian journalist, translator, writer and filmmaker - spoke about 'Restart', the short film she wrote at the end of a diploma course. In April 2019, it won her a 'best scenario' award. Rasha explained that the movie focuses on people who remained in Syria during the war and their family members who left Syria;...
This recipe is from 'Kan Ya Ma Kan: Folktales and Recipes of Syria and Its Ethnic Groups', by Muna Imady.  It's published by 'Beloved Syria'  with the permission of Muna's mother Elaine Imady. Muna pointed out that the recipe comes from Deir Ez Zor. As explained in the book: The city of Deir ez Zor, like Raqqa, stands on the shores of the...
'A Foolish Man', the story below, is from Kan Ya Ma Kan: Folktales and Recipes of Syria and its Ethnic Groups by the late Muna Imady. It is published here by 'Beloved Syria' with the permission of the author's mother, Elaine Imady. This story comes from Sweida.  As explained in the introduction to 'A Foolish Man', Sweida is the southernmost of Syria’s...
First published in Atlas Obscura, Dec 10, 2019 In 2013, the mosque’s minaret shattered into 2,000 pieces. A restoration team aims to put them back together. BY CHRIS RAY DECEMBER 10, 2019 On a bright spring day in April 2013, the minaret of one of the world’s most famous mosques came crashing to earth in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The sound...
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An RT Documentary, this video was first posted in February 2019, when people living in most Syrian cities and towns could breathe a lot easier, and had cause to look forward to peace. 'Syrian Tango' features a sculptor, Tango dancers, a documentary film maker, and a composer/musician. In giving a voice to these artists, the documentary presents Syrian people at...
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Video, September 2019. Susan Dirgham. On the way to Beit Jabri.   In the introduction to her book 'Damascus: Hidden Treasures of the Old City' (Thames & Hudson, 2001), Brigid Keenan begins, My husband, a diplomat, was posted to Syria in 1993, and I went with him. Very soon, like Isabel, wife of the famous British Consul Richard Burton a hundred and...
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Rasha Milhem In September 2019, on behalf of ‘Beloved Syria’, I interviewed Ms Rasha Milhem, a Syrian translator, news writer, and filmmaker. Rasha has worked for SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency), the Syrian equivalent of the ABC, since 2009. I found her to be eloquent, deep-thinking and passionate.   Having studied English Literature, Rasha is keenly interested in the arts and...