Posted by Joshua on Thursday, December 30th, 2010
An excellent and hard hitting report on Corruption by Lina Sinjab. (Interviews with Jihad Yazigi, `Arif Dalila, and many more)
Listen now (30 minutes)
Mon, 10 Jan 2011, 20:30 on BBC Radio 4
Corruption in Syria is commonplace. You can see it almost everywhere you go: from a small tip for a government worker to process paperwork, to customs officials requiring payments to allow goods into the country. The single-party government says it’s stamping out corruption and that it’s determined not to let it stand in the way of the country’s economic development. But with economic reforms opening Syria up to foreign investment, it’s claimed corruption is getting worse. And those who raise the issue in public can find themselves thrown in jail.
The BBC’s Damascus correspondent Lina Sinjab investigates the impact of corruption and bribery in the country, and looks at whether Syria’s drive to modernise is being hampered by the millions of dollars lost in graft…..
Preserving Heritage, and the Fabric of Life, in Syria
By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF, New York Times
December 26, 2010
ALEPPO, Syria — At first glance it seems an unremarkable scene: a quiet plaza shaded by date palms in the shadow of this city’s immense medieval Citadel, newly restored to its looming power. Foreign tourists sit side by side with people whose families have lived here for generations; women, both veiled and unveiled, walk arm in arm past a laborer hauling tools into an old government building being converted into a hotel.
But this quiet plaza is the centerpiece of one of the most far-thinking preservation projects in the Middle East, one that places as much importance on people as it does on the buildings they live in. The project encompasses the rebuilding of crumbling streets and the upgrading of city services, the restoration of hundreds of houses in the historic Old City, plans for a 42-acre park in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and the near-decade-long restoration of the Citadel itself, whose massive walls dominate the skyline of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and a gem of Islamic architecture.
The effort, led by a German nonprofit group and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture working with local government, is the culmination of a major philosophical shift among preservationists in the region. It seeks to reverse a 50-year history during which preservation, by myopically focusing on restoring major architectural artifacts, sometimes destroyed the communities around them. Other restoration efforts have also sparked gentrification, driving the poor from their homes and, at their worst, fostering rage that plays into the hands of militants.
By offering an array of financial and zoning incentives to homeowners and shopkeepers, this approach has already helped stabilize impoverished communities in a part of the world where the most effective social programs for the poor are often still run by extremist organizations like Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The project in Aleppo is quite an exceptional model,” said Daniele Pini, a preservationist who has worked for Unesco, the United Nations cultural arm, throughout the region. In places like Cairo and Jordan, he said, those who would restore historic buildings and those who live in them are often at loggerheads. The Aleppo plan, he said, “allows people to adapt the old houses to the needs of modern life.”
Correcting Past Blunders ….
Syria a bright star in the Middle East
Tourism is on the upswing in Syria, with a more modern government, lavish hotels sprouting up and cuisine and culture evolving in striking ways.
December 26, 2010, latimes.com
Syria, in the ancient heart of the Middle East, used to be rough, insular, politically extreme and all but off the map for travelers. Now, with a more forward-looking government, tourism increasing by almost 50% a year and opulent new hotels opening by the score, the luster is back on the magic lamp, making Syria one of the world’s most compelling destinations for 2011.
Recent visitors from the U.S. report that the largely Sunni Muslim population receives non-Islamic Westerners courteously, that tourists are allowed to shop and browse without annoyance from hard-selling touts and merchants, and that culture, cuisine and the arts in the former French colony have developed in strikingly stylish ways.
Other Syrian attractions are of much longer standing, beginning with the 4,000-year-old capital Damascus, once the richest city in the Arab world and paradise on Earth, according to the prophet Mohammed….
Stateless Kurds in Syria
By Taghee Moas
“Journalism in the Field: A blog about Syria, its Kurdish minority and their Human Rights situation”
The stateless Kurds of Syria and the UN’s position of non-intervention and neglect…..