The Eighth Gate of Damascus

Posted by Alex 

Here are some rendered images and a press release from Emaar Syria. They are starting construction on their previously announced Eighth Gate commercial and residencial project.

Emaar Properties and IGO, the offshore investment and property development company, unveiled details of a joint venture that sets in motion plans to develop a mixed use furnished apartments, commercial and retail development in the Yafour area, approximately 15 minutes from the center of Damascus. The US$500 million project will recreate the luxury and style that are features of Emaar’s world-class Dubai developments.

The Eighth Gate project builds upon the ancient history of Damascus in its architectural style of ornately decorated buildings influenced by traditional Islamic design and pays homage to the city’s ancient roots. A signature tall gate marks the access to the main plaza.

Dating back to its ancient history, the city walls of Damascus have seven gates as access points. These gates have nurtured the rich culture of its people and were powerful emblems of the people of Damascus. Although only one of these monuments remains intact today, the city remembers how the striking structures have welcomed those who walked through the archways into the city century after century. The people of Damascus will soon be able to experience an Eighth Gate – one that retains the best of the past, but in a modern context.  

The Eighth Gate is strategically segmented into three zones:

The Commercial Center of The Eighth Gate offers a classical style piazza for convergence that encapsulates a myriad of functions. Anchored by the signature 35 storey office tower, the main plaza also embraces low rise commercial buildings and a 450,000sq ft retail mall inspired by the souks of old Damascus.

The next zone, The Waterfront, is characterized by a blend of low-rise furnished apartments development, high street shopping and dining landscape. Against this vibrant backdrop are two luxurious furnished apartments towers overlooking the waterfront and the main plaza.

The more intimate and private Furnished Apartments Zone is nestled in an environment that celebrates the innermost sense of community. This furnished apartments zone is augmented with interconnected courtyards and low-rise buildings inspired by Syrian housing archetypes.

The Eighth Gate builds a picture of striking authenticity and an intimate lifestyle experience. A place of prestige and comfortable living, poised to become the center of New Damascus.

 

Comments (84)


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51. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
You mean can’t do it at the expense of the Asad regime collapsing.
The Asad regime does what is good for the Asads, not what is good for the Palestinians. Need I remind you of the deep hatered between Arafat and Hafez?

Asad is worried about the regime and that is why all the liberalization methods are half measures. He has to juggle manipulating the “resistance” motive with developing the economy. I don’t think it is possible but let’s wait and see. Hafez chose “resistance” but Asad is trying to eat his cake and have it too.

I can promise you that Israel will work hard to make it clear to Asad that his 2 goals cannot go together.

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February 8th, 2008, 7:45 pm

 

52. Seeking the Truth said:

AIG,

Do you see a way, the Asad regime could reach a peace treaty with Israel; and if so, would it mean more or less likelihood of its survival?

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February 8th, 2008, 8:39 pm

 

53. Qifa Nabki said:

Ehsani,

Thank you for your comment. Prescient and to the point (and right!) as always.

Alex et al,

I can’t tell you how satisfying this post has been, for me, a humble American lackey from across the border.

Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue…. OPTIMISM from the healing power of capitalism.

Money, development, Gulfi billions… it’s intoxicating, as Damascus is discovering. It’s better than getting religion. All of a sudden, there is talk of peace, solutions, and beautiful Swedish tourists. I can’t wait for Damascenes to get a real taste of it, so that they can finally sympathize with what so many Lebanese are feeling right now… when it all comes crashing down again as a result of that irascible and perennial problem, the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I can’t wait for Syrians to begin speculating on the price they are really willing to pay for supporting the divine resistance, the Arab nationalism, the umma, solidarity in the face of al-3adu al-akbar, al-kiyaan al-ghaasib, etc. … if it means giving up Starbucks, poncy organic markets, sweetheart pieces about Damascus in Vogue magazine, money from rich Kuwaitis lining the streets during the summers, etc.

On the day that Syria signs a peace treaty with Israel, don’t imagine that the political and religious movements across the region that have staked their existence on eliminating America’s presence and that of its proxies will simply disappear. A peace treaty may be only a couple of years away, but true reconcilliation is a generation or two away, at least. And during the “healing” period, I expect Syria’s good people to taste a little bit of the bitterness that the Lebanese have tasted in a systematic fashion over the past three years.

Bitterness over progress thwarted, over hopes dashed, over prospects spurned. Bitterness over being ridiculed for “ties to the West,” for getting too big for your britches, for thinking in ambitious ways how to improve your society. Once you’ve had a taste of that kind of optimism, it’ll sting more than you’d like, once it’s taken away by a party who thrives on perpetuating instability and chaos.

Bring on the revolution!

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February 8th, 2008, 9:07 pm

 

54. Qifa Nabki said:

In the meantime, though… let’s all laugh at this ridiculous woman. I wish they’d confiscate her Lebanese passport.

Violence Won’t Stop Lebanese from Getting Married
Naharnet

Riots, assassinations and ominous warnings of impending civil war won’t deter Yasmine Tohme from spending almost half a million dollars for a fairy-tale wedding in Lebanon this summer.
The 600-strong guest list has been drawn up, the wedding venue overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is booked and the 50,000-dollar (35,000-euro) wedding dress chosen.

“There will be an international as well as a local band and a Zaffe, or Arabic folklore dance group,” Tohme, 30, told AFP. “I want it to be glamorous, to glitter.”

Tohme and her fiancé are among thousands of starry-eyed couples who are pushing ahead with plans to tie the knot this summer in a country undergoing its worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

No car bombs, failed presidential elections or a worsening economy will stop them from going to the altar and organizing a reception they hope will be the talk of the town.

Hotels and reception halls are already almost fully booked for the summer season while wedding organizers are busy trying to fulfill the fantasies of clients whose demands can range from wanting to recreate the setting of a favored opera to a wedding on the farm.

These extravagant plans are in a country where the minimum monthly wage is just 300,000 Lebanese pounds (200 dollars, 134 euros) and where protests have multiplied in recent weeks over mounting prices.

“Our customers spend on average 200,000 dollars for a wedding of about 1,000 people,” said Chayban Sakr, of Platinum Comet, an event planner. “For sure, this is a country where appearance is paramount and we are here to help our customers realize their dreams.

“Those getting married are not thinking about the bill since it’s their wedding and, after all, this is Lebanon,” he added. “Many ask for really odd themes such as a Louis XIV theme and we have to go out and find chairs and other items from that period.”

One customer, for example, recently asked his company to organize a wedding where the 400 guests could feel as though they were on a farm.

“I rented goats, sheep, pigs, hens and cows from the Bekaa valley and the reception was an open-air event,” he said. “The bride arrived on a donkey.”

Another bride asked a different event planner for a Venetian setting complete with a canal built inside the reception hall and a gondola she boarded to arrive in style. All for a mere one million dollars.

At the luxury Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut, the banquet rooms are already fully booked for July and August, with couples wishing to organize a wedding reception between Thursday and Sunday required to invite a minimum 450 guests at a starting price of 45 dollars a person, a spokesman said.

Many of the future grooms and brides work in Arab countries in the Gulf and return home for the big event before leaving again.

Karen Choueiri, spokeswoman for “Wedding Follies 2008”, an annual event that gathers more than 200 exhibitors specializing in weddings, said the fair was gaining in popularity since it started five years ago.

“It has become a challenge to hold the event with bombs going off here and there and the political and economic situation being so uncertain,” Choueiri said.

“But if there is one sector that is a sure value in Lebanon, it’s the wedding sector.”(AFP)

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February 8th, 2008, 9:14 pm

 

55. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
If Syria flips (cuts ties to Hamas, Hizballah and Iran) there is a chance that most Israelis would support peace with Syria. I don’t think the regime can survive such peace especially after leading the “resistance” since Egypt signed a peace treaty. So I don’t think a peace agreement with Israel is near.

I think Bashar is in a bind. He needs economic development because he needs to create jobs for the 50% of Syrians under twenty but he can’t get economic growth without “globalization” and that means letting go of the “resistance” policy and giving in to “American hegemony”. In the end, I beleive Asad will do what is best for the regime and that means favoring “resistance” over economic growth. That will buy him a few extra years until finally the demographic barrel of dynamite on which he is sitting will explode.

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February 8th, 2008, 9:53 pm

 

56. offended said:

That’s one great misleading assumption AIG, why do you think the economical reforms and globalization will harm the regime??

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February 8th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

57. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Because in order to get real economic reform and globalization the regime will have to shed the mantle of “resistance”. In my opinion the two cannot go together. You cannot both be on the list of terror supporting countries and also hope to have economic growth (the growth required to create 10 million jobs over the next 20 years). And without the “resistance” schtick, the regime is fragile.

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February 8th, 2008, 11:12 pm

 

58. offended said:

Beating around the bushes again heh?

And without the “resistance” schtick, the regime is fragile.

Can you explain why?

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February 9th, 2008, 12:02 am

 

59. Alex said:

AIG,

I will tell you about MY two incompatibles:

Those who hate the Assad regime (You, some “Syrian opposition”, “Arab Moderate” journalists …etc) very often made one of these two arguments:

1) Assad does not really want peace because once he recovers his Golan his people will start asking: “Why do you want to continue to rule us? … now that we recovered our occupied lands, the next thing we need is democracy”

2) Israel should not give Assad his Golan .. if Israel did, then Assad will become a hero in Syria … one of the reasons his father got empowered enough to rule for decades was his perceived victory in the 1973 war … if Bashar is allowed to get the credit for getting the Golan back then he is empowered for the next decade at least.

The fact is, almost ALL the high ranking American officials who negotiated with Hafez Assad over the Golan had no doubt that he tried his best to negotiate the best terms for Syria and that he genuinely worked hard for his country’s best interest (as he could see them) … and that he wanted to sign that peace treaty.

Few weeks before he died, Clinton’s call to Geneva got him to fly there immediately …. to finalize the agreement, not to reject it. But Barak called and told Clinton that he is not sure anymore if he can respect his offer to Assad.

So … this on and off conflicting argument that “Assad does not want the Golan because it is his automatic end / Assad wants it so bad in order to become a hero in Syria” … does not work.

If you are claiming that he wants the Golan, but he wants to continue fighting Israel through supporting Hamas and Hizbollah and continuing to ask Iran for help to help him fine tune his long range missiles … then you are wrong as well.

Syria has an offer to Israel that is quite reasonable … If Israel turns into a good member of the Mideast club (accepting UN resolutions 242 and 338, or accepting the Arab peace plan) … Syria will not support anyone working against Israel.

If Israel continues to kill and punish Palestinians without serious steps to reach a settlement with the help of Damascus, Riyadh, Cairo, and Washington … then Bashar, or ANY president of Syria will have no choice but to continue supporting (politically and diplomatically) the Palestinian people … not “Hamas”.

So most likely there will be no Hizbolah problem anymore (they will turn to politics only) and Mashal will voluntarily leave Damascus to Qatar or elsewhere … and Syria won’t work with Iran on military projects … but settling with Syria will not be at the expense of the Palestinian people … and this brings me to Qifa Nabki’s excellent comment:

QN … what you are saying is true to some extent … many people will be busy with their new small business, or busy following the current value of their stock portfolio … but, look at the rich Syrians on this forum … while Ehsani loves these new residential projects (for the rich) … most others still felt uncomfortable that Syria would dare have even ONE residential project for the ultra-rich … the majority of Syrians are strongly socialist and nationalistic … they won’t change much after they become rich .. look at Norman for example … he is worth over $100 millions yet he is very passionate about the Palestinian cause and he is accused by many here of being a Baathist …

I’m joking Norman .. but you are quite rich, I know : )

You know the difference between Syrian and Lebanese QN?

Many Syrians feel that the Lebanese and Palestinians are just like any other Syrians … they might say they don’t believe in Greater Syria, but … to some extent it is still subconsciously in their mind or heart.

But .. younger Syrians were exposed to a different basket of influences and ideologies … I am more inclined to believe your prediction in the case of young Syrians.

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February 9th, 2008, 12:05 am

 

60. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I would add another group to those who will be less than enamoured of resistance, qawmiyya, etc.: the Syrians of the diaspora who decide to repatriate.

Lebanon held a major conference for the mughtaribiin back in 2000, to attract Lebanese back to the country. They toured people around who hadn’t been back to their country for many years, introduced them to Lahoud, showed them the beautifully restored central district, etc. And, it seems, it was quite a successful publicity job. Many people returned, seeking to parlay their professional experiences in the West into a significant edge in the Lebanese economy, and many were very successful. We saw new franchises opening every month (Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Mcdonalds, Burker King, KFC, etc.), Lebanese versions of western corporate concepts (Doculand = Kinko’s, etc.), small businesses of all kinds.

Syria will attract some percentage of its diaspora, if/when it opens up its economy. And these people, like their Lebanese compatriots (for the most part), will not look kindly upon the “old” ways.

My two cents.

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February 9th, 2008, 1:19 am

 

61. norman said:

Alex,
I just noticed how much i am worth ,I wish !, about being passionate about a fair settlement for the Palestinians , you are right ,
One time you asked about greater Syria and the relation between the Syrians and other Arabs in Algeria and Eritrea and other places , I remember during the sixties when Syrians donated their jewelry for the Algerian revolution for independence ,
Recently i met an Eritrean DR who was so happy to see me praising Syria for all the help she provided for their independence , he even added that he was impressed with the way that Bashar Assad managed to deny the west the chance to destroy Syria by leaving Lebanon in 2005 ,

Alex , i look at greater Syria as i look at New England in the US the states in that region are close in many ways , the people are the same and certainly different than the people in louisiana , they probably know more about Darfur than about luisiana but they are still part of one nation , the American nation so do the people of greater Syria , they are part of the Arab nation.

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February 9th, 2008, 2:48 am

 

62. AusLeb84 said:

This looks fantastic, it will create much needed jobs and productivity for the Syrian Economy.

Whilst industrial and educational investment is more important, Syria does need to start somewhere. I remember reading a piece (on SyriaComment I think) about the private Universities opening up in Syria, so there is investment in other areas of importance.

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February 9th, 2008, 3:05 am

 

63. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My point is simple. For example, Syria needs more electricity generation plants to develop. There is no argument about that. It is not building more plants because it cannot get European and American companies to bid on such plants. The Syrian minister on energy said so himself. The reason European and American companies won’t bid is the “resistance” issue.

China and India have grown by exporting heavily to the West. Syria cannot have significant growth without good relations with the West. It will not have such relations until it abandons the “resistance” stance.

Asad is smart enough to know that he cannot abandon the “resistance” motif without endangering his regime. That is because in every transition to a capitalistic economy huge differences emerge between the rich and the poor and there are strong social tensions. He needs the “resistance” motif as an excuse for why the poor are suffering now and for why they suffered in the past. I don’t think he can juggle these two contradictory agendas.

The Chinese and Indian models are based on good relations with the West but to in order to get this Asad will have to give up on Syria’s trademark foreign policy of destabilzation. Asad will never do that.

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February 9th, 2008, 5:22 am

 

64. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Asad is specifically supporting Hamas and not Fatah. It is just not true that he is supporting the Palestinian people.

In the same way that Asad does not support the Lebanese but some parties in Lebanon.

This is part and parcel of Asad’s destabilization startegy.

If Israel would give arms and money to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Kurds, you would not say that Israel is helping Syria. About 50% of the Palestinians and most of the Lebanese do not think that Asad is helping them.

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February 9th, 2008, 5:27 am

 

65. Alex said:

The Jordanian and Egyptian rulers are still governing years and years after they abandoned “the struggle”.

“Assad is smart enough to know” that when he gets the Golan and shift to a new approach in helping the Palestinians while addressing the military ties with Iran and Hizbollah’s role in Lebanon concerns of Washington, he will be:

1) a hero in Syria
2) able to get much more western support for his very effective intervention in the different conflicts in the Middle East.

And while you are right about attitudes in Lebanon (many unhappy with Syria’s allies in that country) in Palestine most of Fatah supporters admire Syria’s ability to stick to its own course without being bullied by the Americans … When Arafat was alive they believed in him and they were upset that syria is trying to weaken him … but now they don’t believe in anyone from Fatah even if they prefer Ftah to Hamas for practical reasons … but Syria fares better than all the other Arab countries… and they are not upset that Syria is weakening Abbas … they know that Abbas is very weak anyway.

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February 9th, 2008, 5:35 am

 

66. MNA said:

QN SAID:
I can’t wait for Damascenes to get a real taste of it, so that they can finally sympathize with what so many Lebanese are feeling right now… when it all comes crashing down again as a result of that irascible and perennial problem, the Arab-Israeli conflict.
I can’t wait for Syrians to begin speculating on the price they are really willing to pay for supporting the divine resistance, the Arab nationalism, the umma, solidarity in the face of al-3adu al-akbar, al-kiyaan al-ghaasib, etc. … if it means giving up Starbucks, poncy organic markets, sweetheart pieces about Damascus in Vogue magazine, money from rich Kuwaitis lining the streets during the summers, etc. I expect Syria’s good people to taste a little bit of the bitterness that the Lebanese have tasted in a systematic fashion over the past three years.

Syrians have been witnessing economical developments all aoround them in Lebanon, Jordan, Cairo, Dubai etc…and feeling that they are being bypased by it. syrian people and I emphsize people sacrified more than 10,000 soldiers in lebanon, hosted over 1.5 million Iraqis, despite the hardship it is causing the regular syrian, hosted tousands of Lebanese during the civil war and about 300,000 lebanese during the war of 2006. During the 80’s basic hosehold foods and supplies such as toilet papers, bread, fruits etc were scarce. Now days you can’t even get and legally register an anti-virus software b/c of american santions, and the list goes on and on. Syrians have accepted all of that for what you sarcastically mentioned above “the divine resistance, the Arab nationalism, the umma, solidarity in the face of al-3adu al-akbar, al-kiyaan al-ghaasib, etc. …

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February 9th, 2008, 5:37 am

 

67. offended said:

MNA, we are feeling for the Lebanese already. We don’t have to ‘get taste of it’ to know how it feels. You’ve got a problem with the Syrian regime, then direct your comment at it not at the people. This is just despicable..

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February 9th, 2008, 12:17 pm

 

68. Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

The comments you are citing as despicable are mine and not MNA’s.

Go back and read the original post, and you’ll understand my point, which is that the Lebanese have been routinely criticized, largely by Syrians (and the participants on this blog are no exception) of being insufficiently attached to “the region and its problems.” I remember many accusations on these pages in the past, where Syrians repeatedly made the point that the Lebanese have to stop thinking that they can extricate themselves from their environment, for wanting to be “a part of Europe and the West”… simply because many Lebanese have tried to pursue a path of progress, economic development, and questioned the propoganda of resistance, the ideology of Arab nationalism, etc.

Now I see similar sentiments being expressed on this thread, and I’m merely reminding everyone of the treatment of these issues (in the Lebanese context) in the past.

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February 9th, 2008, 2:52 pm

 

69. idaf said:

Qifa Nabki,

There is a big difference in the way Lebanese and Syria psyche works today, and it is not because of the Baath, socialism or Arabism. This reason behind this difference between Syrians and many Lebanese is largely because of the concept behind Lebanon’s creation in the first place. Lebanon was created based on a separatist and exclusionist ideas (as well as racist and chauvinistic ideas in the case of many) put forward by its founders (the French and few Lebanese politicians as well the Maronite patriarchy back in first half of last century).

The culture that had been nurtured in Lebanon has been largely isolationist (with some exceptions like the SSNP and more recently HA). This unrealistic isolationist culture which entailed political, economic and racial ideas (for example the economic one that you are stating in your comment) created many actuality gaps between what the politicians and the sectarian Zu’ama in Lebanon kept promising their constituencies and the realities on the ground (where Lebanon’s internal economy and political atmosphere is very much related to what’s taking place in the region.. mainly Syria for geopolitical reasons). This isolationist culture was entrenched in the history of many minorities in Lebanon that decided (or were forced) throughout the past centuries to isolate themselves in mountains and hard-to-reach places. The same patrons of such isolationist culture governed Lebanon since its creation up to the civil war. This is still prevalent in the speeches of many Lebanese Zu’ama today and in the myth that prevails among the Lebanese public today that claims that “if only we were to be left alone, our life and economy would flourish”.

It’s important to note that this isolationist culture was not the norm among most Lebanese when the country was created, but was enforced because of the sectarian grievances throughout the decades. For the record, most of the ancestors of those living in Lebanon today were part of this history which was mainly part of the Al-Cham outgoing history (rather than isolationist), but were subjected to the separatist, exclusionist and isolationist brainwashing by the Z’uama for decades since the creation of the country and up to the civil war.

On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of Syrians did not have to adopt such an isolationist culture throughout their history (except the Ismailis and maybe the Alawites to a lesser extent which adopted the mainstream more internationalist culture in modern day Syria). On the contrary, Syria’s history (which is very similar to Egypt’s history on this respect) was very “internationalist” and all about influencing the world beyond (from Rome, to Spain to China), reaching out with trade and diplomacy, conquering other civilizations, and most importantly exporting knowledge, science and ideas. This proud history is what every Syrian child is taught in school from early childhood and seeded in Syrian children by their parents even outside Syria. It is part of the psyche of every Syrian today.

So my conclusion is the following: Even if Syria was to flourish economically as far as Dubai today, Syrians (rich and poor, well-educated and the les-educated) cannot not adopt the isolationist ideas you are trying to argue for, even if it means less financial returns. It would take decades of systematic isolationist brainwashing from the top (a la Sadat/Mubarak in Egypt and the Zu’ama in Lebanon) to eliminate or even alter such internationalist culture or at least the more realistic regional one that fits the Syria of the last 60+ years rather than Al-Cham of the 7000 years before that. This historical reasoning can also explain your average Syrian’s unequivocal support for Palestinian, Iraqis, Lebanese causes even if in many cases it means tolerating damages to the economy. It’s not the Baath, Arabism or socialism, it is the history stupid.. no offense intended 😉

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February 9th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

70. Alex said:

Idaf I think Qifa Nabki’s point is valid … especially with younger Syrians … There are few constants that no one can ignore, in Syria, Lebanon or anywhere else. For example, there will always be people who can be lured away from their ideological beliefs through material attractions … there WILL be less Syrians who are preoccupied with “the struggle” when they are completely occupied with their economy.

But IDAF is also right … while everyone concentrated on the corruption of many of the Syrian army officers in Lebanon, the main story is that Syria lost 13,000 soldiers in Lebanon … the Syrian people supported that … remember that in he mid to late seventies Syria’s economy was booming … post 1973 war. At that time, I remember as a Child how hundreds of thousand of Lebanese refugees from the civil war flooded Damascus … Syrians were very willing to host them.

Today .. while many Syrians are getting rich or getting more rich, Syria is hosting 1.5 to 2 million Iraqi refugees … our electricity supply failed last summer partly because of this 10% increase in demand (and another increase in demand due to excessive heat)

Yet, most Syrians (including some of those who are busy getting very rich) want to do more of the same… host Lebanese refugees from Israel’s invasion, continue to host the Palestinian refugees, stand up to the neocons and to Jumblatt …etc.

Trust me … Syrians feel responsible for ex-greater Syria even if they don’t admit it or even realize it.

This is the difference between Syria on the one hand, and Lebanon + Jordan + Saudi Arabia + Kuwait … etc. It is not only Lebanon.

The only other country where there is a bit of similarity (to a lesser extent) is Egypt … Many Egyptians still feel they are what Nasser made them to be … leaders of the Arab world.

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February 9th, 2008, 8:02 pm

 

71. ausamaa said:

It is EMAR’s money, but Syria is dammned if it does and dammned if it does not. Let us go picket the constructin site!

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February 9th, 2008, 8:56 pm

 

72. Qifa Nabki said:

Idaf,

I have to say that I find your isolationist-internationalist dichotomy baffling, not least because of the historical backdrop with which you associate it. That some Lebanese see themselves as possessing a distinct culture (what you call “isolationist”) is nothing that can be blamed on some Machiavellian impulse of their zu’ama. It is, as you suggested, the product of centuries of conflict with and alienation from the various powers in the area (from the Abbasids to the Hamdanids to the Crusaders to the Ayyubids to the Mamluks to the Ottomans… and THEN the French). As I’ve said before, there are Lebanese who think of themselves as Phoenicians (i.e. not even Arabs), there are those who think of themselves as Shi`a first and foremost, or as Armenians first and foremost, or as Greater Syrians, etc. We have all types.

The Lebanese person who is angry about seeing his country being used as a tool to help prop up a dictatorship (however benign, liberalizing, etc.) is not “brainwashed” by an isolationist culture. The Lebanese person who is fed up with a militia that acts like a state within his state, that provokes wars and answers to no one (besides foreign dictators) is not an irrational, racist, exclusivist, isolationist, person as you seem to be suggesting. After all, this same Lebanese person was almost certainly a very strong supporter of that same militia when it was legitimately struggling for Lebanese interests.

On the contrary, Syria’s history (which is very similar to Egypt’s history on this respect) was very “internationalist” and all about influencing the world beyond (from Rome, to Spain to China), reaching out with trade and diplomacy, conquering other civilizations, and most importantly exporting knowledge, science and ideas. This proud history is what every Syrian child is taught in school from early childhood and seeded in Syrian children by their parents even outside Syria. It is part of the psyche of every Syrian today.

Highly amusing to me is that you can actually slip a paragraph like this one in just after preaching to me about the ways the Lebanese have been brainwashed! As you should know (and as you point out to me), just because somebody tell you something from birth, doesn’t mean it’s accurate. If Lebanon was a “creation” of the colonial powers, then Syria was no less one. Just because we have a word that is historically attested for centuries (like “Sham” or “Lubnan”), does not mean that modern citizens are the inheritors of that historical genotype. If that were true, then I’d have to conclude that the Lebanese were even more “internationalist” because they are modern-day Phoenicians, the ancient world’s first internationalists. This is just silly. If one group of people can be brainwashed into becoming isolationists, then another group of people can surely be brainwashed into becoming socialists, Baathists, etc. You don’t get to pretend like Bashar al-Assad is the modern day incarnation of some universal Syrian monarch type, stretching from Philippus Arabs to Mu`awiya to Sayf al-Dawla to Najm al-Din al-Ayyubi, etc. and still be taken seriously.

My original argument had almost nothing to do with your response, which seems to be motivated only by the classic insecurities and anxieties about Lebanon’s “isolationism”. I was simply making the uncontroversial point that people who have gotten a taste of progress and stability will cease to be as willing to accept a militarized status quo. That’s it.

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February 10th, 2008, 1:19 am

 

73. MNA said:

QN said:

Offended,
The comments you are citing as despicable are mine and not MNA’s.”

QN thank you for taking the credit 😉

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February 10th, 2008, 5:41 am

 

74. MNA said:

QN said:
“The Lebanese person who is angry about seeing his country being used as a tool to help prop up a dictatorship (however benign, liberalizing, etc.) is not “brainwashed” by an isolationist culture. The Lebanese person who is fed up with a militia that acts like a state within his state, that provokes wars and answers to no one (besides foreign dictators) is not an irrational, racist, exclusivist, isolationist, person as you seem to be suggesting. After all, this same Lebanese person was almost certainly a very strong supporter of that same militia when it was legitimately struggling for Lebanese interests.”

Do you really believe that Bush, Sarkouzi, Olmert, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia are all dictators??

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February 10th, 2008, 5:44 am

 

75. Qifa Nabki said:

No, just King Abdullah.

The rest have shelf lives, and they don’t depend on Lebanon for survival.

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February 10th, 2008, 11:50 am

 

76. idaf said:

قفا نبك (Qifa Nabki),

My comment was not intended to imply that Syria is better or Lebanon is worse! I was not ranking. So for example, yes I agree that today’s Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, etc (with their borders that did not originally reflect natural, cultural or social differences among the citizens) were “creations of the colonial powers”. They were.

The paragraph that I “slipped” on Syria, is not just about today’s Syria. It was about the residents of this region. The “creation” called Syria (thanks to those same colonial powers) happened to keep the name that associated it with the history of this region (hence the state still influences its citizens with such history). While state/media/etc. of other “creations”, such as Lebanon and Jordan, tried hard during the past 6 decades to disassociate their people from such regional history and shape and teach them an exclusivist history for their own (one clear example, “Phoenicia equals Lebanon”, while to be more factual, it was merely one of the civilizations that existed in ancient Syria, not just within the boarders of today’s Lebanon). I did not imply that this is “genetic” or that today’s Syrians or Lebanese citizens “are the inheritors of that historical genotype”, but rather I said that the cultural and political context (call it brainwashing) that the people of these “creations” in the region were subjected to during the last 60 years, was the reason for such internationalist vs. isolationist culture. This was influenced culturally and politically (brainwashing), not genetically, similar to the way today’s Israelis -contrary to what AIG insists on- were culturally and politically influenced (or brainwashed) to believe that they are the same people with the same history that have the same history in Israel (which is factually incorrect).

QN, I did not “pretend like Bashar al-Assad is the modern day incarnation of some universal Syrian monarch type stretching from Philippus Arabs to Mu`awiya to Sayf al-Dawla to Najm al-Din al-Ayyubi”!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 .. However, if it was any other person in Bashar’s shoes today, a Christian or a Sunni, a dictator or an elected democrat, a king or Khalifa, this person governing this creation called “Syria” would also be associated with such history and will be guided by its “internationalist” cultural and political associations. (btw, I think you mean “Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi”, “Najm al-Din al-Ayyubi” was in Egypt)

Now back to your argument (which I tried to originally address in my comment but with a bit of controversial theorizing and generalizing!):
I argue that unless people in Syria were to be influenced culturally and politically (brainwashed) with a systematic isolationist culture (similar to Egyptians under Sadat), they would continue to be willing to pay the economic price “for supporting the divine resistance, the Arab nationalism, the umma, solidarity in the face of al-3adu al-akbar, al-kiyaan al-ghaasib, etc.” to quote you, even “if it means giving up Starbucks, poncy organic markets, sweetheart pieces about Damascus in Vogue magazine, money from rich Kuwaitis lining the streets during the summers”. After all, the extremely successful capitalist Syrians of the 40s and 50s did so as forcefully as the “socialist” Syrians of today who are still doing this, mainly because of the cultural and political influence of history.

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February 10th, 2008, 4:58 pm

 

77. Qifa Nabki said:

Idaf,

I understand your argument now, and it is a fair one. We’ll have to wait and see. The difference between today and the 40’s and 50’s is that we are living in a globalized culture. So, capitalism’s ability to influence people’s mentalities and orient them towards promoting political stability rather than upheaval (aka “brainwashing” them) is much more powerful than at any other point in its history. When Syria is more like Lebanon, in that regard, I think the Syrians will be more like the Lebanese.

Or not. Who knows.

But now you’ve got me sounding like a neo-Phoenician capitalist, so can we please change the subject, so I can redeem my street cred on SC?

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February 10th, 2008, 5:16 pm

 

78. MNA said:

Qifa Nabki said:

“No, just King Abdullah.

The rest have shelf lives, and they don’t depend on Lebanon for survival.”

How do the other or does the other one depend on lebanon for survival??

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February 10th, 2008, 6:42 pm

 

79. Qifa Nabki said:

MNA,

As plenty of people have acknowledged on SC, Syria cannot afford to lose control of Lebanon. At least, not at this stage, with Bush still in the White House. With a weakened Hizbullah, a strong anti-Syrian government would spell big trouble for the Assad regime.

This is what I meant.

By contrast, the US and France are not directly threatened by the events in Lebanon.

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February 10th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

80. MNA said:

Qifa Nabki said:

“MNA,

As plenty of people have acknowledged on SC, Syria cannot afford to lose control of Lebanon. At least, not at this stage, with Bush still in the White House. With a weakened Hizbullah, a strong anti-Syrian government would spell big trouble for the Assad regime.

This is what I meant.

By contrast, the US and France are not directly threatened by the events in Lebanon. ”

Yes I agree, but this far from survival. Syria needs Lebanon to strenghten its regional stature and apply pressure on Israel regarding the Golan, the same way that Saudia Arabia needs influence in Lebanon b/c it is the last place the it would have any influence in the region and a way to limit Iran’s influence.France is trying to become marginal again in the ME thru lebanon. The US needs Lebanon b/c it is the only place that it can pressure Syria and Iran. I’m not even going to talk about why Israel needs Lebanon!!

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February 10th, 2008, 7:42 pm

 

81. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Israel does not need Lebanon. All it needs is a quiet border with Lebanon and this was provided by the 2006 war. From this regard it was very successful.

The Lebanese are not willing to absorb more wars on their soil and they know who to blame. That was another advantage of the 2006 war. The Lebanese realized what the real cost of Hizballah is.

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February 10th, 2008, 8:40 pm

 

82. Jay said:

Perhaps Bashar should first consider finishing the myriad buildings in central damascus which were abandoned while 30-70% completed before creating a soulless dubai inspired megaplex. Damascus today is largely lacking in both beauty and modernity, its character is all it has left!!

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February 13th, 2008, 9:07 am

 

83. Ajdab said:

This kind of project smels fishy, and a sign of pure corruption! why?:
1- Syria has enough rescources to build it, and dosen’t need Emaar.
2- This partner of Emaar, IGO, the offshore investment and property development company is a new company without hostoric record to prof its legitimacy. Especialy that most corrupted companies on earth are located on offshore.
3- Who owns IGO ?
4- How about building a new hospital instead of Al-Mowasah Hospital.

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February 15th, 2008, 6:48 pm

 

84. Global Voices بالعربية » سوريا: وجه سوريا المتغير said:

[…] واحد من العديد من الأمثلة حول أين يذهب هذا المال هي الطفرة العمرانية في سوريا. ولكن ان كنت تعتقد انها من أجل بناء بنية تحتية أو مساكن رخيصة, فأنت مخطئ. هذه الطفرة موجهة لبناء المجمعات التجارية, المجمعات السكنية الفاخرة في ضواحي المدن, مثل تلال قرطبة في حلب, والمشروع الشهير, البوابة الثامنة في دمشق. أليكس يعرفنا على هذا المشروع على مدونة جوشوا لانديس: مجموعة اعمار للاستثمارات الخارجية, أعلنت عن تفاصيل مشروع مشترك لتطوير منطقة محتلطة من الشقق المفروشة, والتجارية في منطقة يعفور, التي تبعد حوالي 15 دقيقة عن مركز دمشق. المشروع بقيمة 500 مليون دولار, وسيكون فيه الشكل والفخامة التي تميز مشاريع شركة إعمار العالمية في دبي. […]

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March 5th, 2008, 12:00 pm

 

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