Friday, July 10, 2020
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This interview with Mahdi Al Mahdi took place on 24 September 2019, my last evening in Damascus before I flew out of Syria on my return trip to Australia.  I just chanced upon the ‘White and Black Quartet’ when I sat outside my hotel to chat with friends. It was a ‘magic moment’ for me.   https://youtu.be/oYcsQFdU9-g Here, 'White and Black Quartet'...
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  'Beloved Syria - Considering Syrian Perspectives', First Edition, Spring 2016, page 25 The Challenge - Responding to this 21st Century War This magazine aims to present the perspectives of Syrians who have experience of war in their country and who wish Syria to remain united and secular. Few deny that there is a proxy war being fought in Syria. Pope Francis has...
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In September 2019 on a visit to Damascus, I interviewed Athar, a Syrian woman who has been in her church scout group since she was 15 years old. We chatted in Beit Jabri, a popular restaurant in old Damascus. Athar explained that her scout group meets once a week for band practice and for activities for the children. Also, at their...
    Written by Jack Bettar Spread across fertile mountains, between olive and pistachio groves, and across windswept limestone hills, sits an assortment of ancient ruins, some mysterious, but all precious not just to Syria’s history but to the history of humankind in general. In the Aleppo and Idlib governorates (provinces), there can be found unique and rare insights into life more than...

Ode to Damascus

Written by Chris Ray, 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...
Written by Alex Ray and 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...
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...