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SYRIA
Country profile
Info4Migrants
Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
783562km2
18mln
POPULATION
GDPper capita
Syrian pound
Language ARABIC
CURRENCY
$2802
AREA
2 Profile SYRIA
MAIN INFORMATION
Syria is a country in the Middle East, which shares a border
with Lebanon in the West, with Israel in the...
The primary goals of president Bashar al-Assad’s foreign policy are ensuring national
security, increasing influence among...
The civil war in Syria is a military conflict
that began in March 2011.
Under the influence of the so-called Arab
Spring, ...
Flag
The flag consists of three stripes – red at the top, white
in the middle and black at the bottom. There are two
green...
FACTS ABOUT SYRIA
Damascus
Damascus is the capital and the second largest city
of Syria after Aleppo. It is commonly known...
Geography
A fertile, 10-20 km wide lowland, is located to the
West, along the entire Syrian Mediterranean shore. It
is the...
FACTS ABOUT SYRIA
Islam
The main religion in Syria is Islam (60% Sunni and 13%
Shia). Islam was born in the lands of what ...
The Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Mosque of the Umayyads
or the Great Mosque of Damascus is one of ...
SYRIAN CUISINE
Syrian cuisine is influenced by the many cultures and civilizations that lived in its territory,
especially...
BEVERAGES IN SYRIA
Soft drinks
Arabic coffee
Arabic coffee is divided into two types:
Turkish coffee (brewed without sugar...
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
1 January: New Year’s Day
Festivities continue till the
next morning and many
people spend the first of
Ja...
Syria is a traditional society with a long cultural history. Family, religion,
education, self-discipline and respect are ...
Marriage
According to the Muslim traditions, marriages are arranged by the families of the couple.
Although there is a cer...
Class and caste
Traditionally, Syrian society is strongly strat-
ified. People of different class rarely have
social conta...
MEN AND WOMEN IN SYRIA
17
Labor distribution
In small towns, women traditionally take care of the
household and rarely lea...
RULES AND RESTRICTIONS
Greetings
• Shake hands when meetings someone or
saying goodbye.
• When meeting a Syrian, always as...
USEFUL INFORMATION
If you are a woman and you are riding in a
taxi alone, sit on the back seat, diagonally
from the driver...
www.info4migrants.com
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I4M country profile of syria (in english)

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I4M country profile of syria (in english)

  1. 1. SYRIA Country profile Info4Migrants Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
  2. 2. 783562km2 18mln POPULATION GDPper capita Syrian pound Language ARABIC CURRENCY $2802 AREA 2 Profile SYRIA
  3. 3. MAIN INFORMATION Syria is a country in the Middle East, which shares a border with Lebanon in the West, with Israel in the Southwest, Jor- dan in the South, Iraq in the East and Turkey in the North. Capital: Damascus. Aleppo (ancient name Halab) is the big- gest and most populated city in Syria. Climate: subtropical – the climate is Mediterranean (humid and mild winter and long, hot and dry summer) in the coast- al area, and continental (dry) in the inner parts of the coun- try. Ethnic groups: about 74% of the population are Syrian and Palestinian Arabs, 9% are Kurds that live in the Northeast part of Syria. Other minorities include Turkmens, Circas- sians, Greeks, Jews and Armenians. Religion: Islam 73% (60% Sunni and 13% Shia), Christian 10% (the majority Antiochian Orthodox). Government: unitary, single party, semi-presidential repub- lic. Flag The coat of arms of Syria is a hawk, which is the symbol of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. SYRIA DamascusLEBANON TURKEY JORDAN IRAQ 3 Profile SYRIA
  4. 4. The primary goals of president Bashar al-Assad’s foreign policy are ensuring national security, increasing influence among its Arab neighbors, and securing the return of the Golan Heights. In the past, Syria has often seen virulent tension with its neighbors – Tur- key, Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon. There was an improvement in Syria’s relations with several of the states in its region in the 21st century, prior to the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War. After the beginning of the civil war in 2011, the large number of killings and human rights abuses resulted in Syria’s isolation from its neighboring countries and the international community. The diplomatic ties with Great Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Tuni- sia, Egypt, Lebanon, the United States, Belgium, Spain, and the Gulf States were severed. In terms of the countries in the Arab league, Syria continues to maintain diplomatic relations with Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen. Because of the violence against civilians in the country, Syria was suspended from the Arab League and the Orga- nization of Islamic Cooperation in 2012. Syria continues to foster good relations with her traditional allies Iran, China, Venezuela and Russia, who are among the few countries which have supported the Syrian govern- ment in its conflict with the opposition. Syria considers the Hatay Province of Turkey as part of its own territory. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, and to this day Syria continues to demand the return of this territory. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon began in 1976 as a result of the civil war, and ended in April 2006 in response to domestic and international pressure after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria is included in the European Union’s European Neighborhood Policy which aims to bring the EU and its neighbors closer. FOREIGN RELATIONS 44 Profile SYRIA
  5. 5. The civil war in Syria is a military conflict that began in March 2011. Under the influence of the so-called Arab Spring, protests began in the country, which in the beginning of 2011 escalated to armed clashes between protestors and the security forces. Protestors demanded an end to the rule of Baas’ party and president Bashar al-Assad, whose family has been ruling Syria since 1971. March 15, 2011 was declared the “Day of Rage”. Thousands of protestors marched on the streets of Damascus, Daraa, Hama, and Deir Ez Zor. In the period between March 18 and May 5, 2011 the anti-government forc- es sieged the town of Daraa. They began as students riots, but ended up under the control of the Islam forces. More and more people joined the protests, but accidents increased and the protests escalated into a Civil War. More and more civilians were arrested and killed. With the advance of the military actions, blockades and bombard- ments began. On July 29, the Free Syrian Opposition Army (FSA) was created; it included members like deserted soldiers, engineers, farmers, and criminals. In November, the town of Homs became a battlefield after the military ac- tions. On June 5, the Syrian army of Assad’s re- gime attacked the forces of the opposition near the town of Latakia with helicopters and fighter jets. On July 18, 2012 the Minister of Defense Dawoud Rajiha, the ex-Military Minister Hasan Turkmani and the brother-in-law of the President Asef Shawkat died in a bomb attack in Damascus. Assad’s army managed to push back the opposition’s army from the capital and fell under the control of the regime. Afterwards the military conflict moved to the town of Aleppo. The govern- ment army conquered the western part of the city, while the FSA governed the eastern part. In early August, the opposition armies tried to take over the airport and the city prison, but were pushed away. In late Sep- tember, the headquarters of FSA were transferred from Turkey to the region con- trolled by the opposition – North Syria. Refugees In what is described by the UN as “the big- gest humanitarian crisis of our time”, about 9.5 million Syrian citizens (or almost half of the population) have been forced to leave their homes since the beginning of the Civil war. Three million Syrian citizens live out- side the country as refugees. CIVIL WAR IN SYRIA 5 Profile SYRIA
  6. 6. Flag The flag consists of three stripes – red at the top, white in the middle and black at the bottom. There are two green stars on the white area – the symbol of Islam. The coat of arms is a hawk, the symbol of Mohammed – the founder of Islam. FACTS ABOUT SYRIA Arabic Language Arabic is the official language. Nowadays several Arabic dialects are spoken - Levantine in the West and Meso- potamian in the Northeast. The Kurds speak the Kurdish dialеct Kurmanji. Turkish and Armenian are also spoken among the minorities. Aramaic is the ancient language spoken in the region be- fore the adoption of Arabic. It is still spoken among the Assyrians. The classical Syriac is still used as the liturgical language in many Syriac Christian denominations. Many educated Syrians also speak English and French. Government rule Syria is a Presidential Republic. The president is elected for a 7 year period. The legislative body is the unicam- eral National Council, elected for a period of 4 years. Syria is divided into 14 governorates (muhafazah) and 65 districts (mintaqah). 66 Profile SYRIA
  7. 7. FACTS ABOUT SYRIA Damascus Damascus is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo. It is commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham and nicknamed as the City of Jasmine (Мadīnat al-Yāsmīn). It is one of the oldest capitals in the world. Damascus has been inhabited since 9000 B.C. The city has been under the rule of the Egyptian Pharaohs, Assyria, Persia, the Empire of Alexander the Great and Bizanteen. During the 7th and 8th centu- ry, Damascus was the capital of the Caliphate of the Umayyad Dynasty. In 1260, it came under the power of Egyptian Mamluks. The period of their reign was fa- mous for the flourishing of arts and crafts. During the Ottoman Empire, the city was a district center. From 1920 to 1943, Damascus was an administrative center of the mandate territory of France–Syria, and after the proclamation of the country’s independence in 1943 it became the capital. In antiquity The first data about the region of Syria can be found in the Egyptian annals from the 4th millennium B.C. describing expeditions to the Amman and Mount Lebanon in search of cedar, pine and cypress trees. The medieval historian Ibn Asakir mentions that the first wall built after the worldwide flood is the Damascus wall, and relates the birth of the city to the 4th millennium B.C. Around the 22nd century B.C. the Phoenicians, descendants of the Canaanites, started to settle down on the Syrian shores. The Phoenicians cre- ated one of the most significant inventions in history – the alphabet. The Arameans adopted the 30-letter Phoenician alphabet in the 14th century B.C. The Greeks began to use it as well, but they also added vowels (not present in the Semitic script). 77 Profile SYRIA
  8. 8. Geography A fertile, 10-20 km wide lowland, is located to the West, along the entire Syrian Mediterranean shore. It is the most important agricultural area in the country where the largest part of the population lives. The two most important Syrian ports – Tartus and Al Ladikia (Lattakia) are also located here. Lava plateaus and the vast, rocky and sandy Syrian dessert spread eastward from the inland mountain ridges, covering more than half of the country’s terri- tory. To the North, the desert borders the fertile valley of Efrat – the largest river in the country. The dam built on the river produces almost 35% of the electric- ity of Syria. Economy Syria’s main earnings come from the oil industry (40%), the agriculture sector (20%) and the textile in- dustry (20%). Since the beginning of the civil war, the economy has shrank by 35%, and the country increas- ingly relies on loans from Iran, Russia and China. The economy is highly regulated by the government, which has increased subsidies and tightened control over trading and restrictions on international trade. Private banking operations have been permitted since 2001, and two years later three non-government banking institutions were created. FACTS ABOUT SYRIA 88 Profile SYRIA
  9. 9. FACTS ABOUT SYRIA Islam The main religion in Syria is Islam (60% Sunni and 13% Shia). Islam was born in the lands of what nowadays is Saudi Arabia. Muslims’ obligations include praying five times a day – at sunrise, at noon, in the afternoon, at sunset and in the evening. The exact hour is printed in the newspapers every day. Friday is the Holy day for Muslims. During the holy Ramadan, Muslims don’t eat and drink from dusk till dawn. National Identity The Syrians identify mainly with their religious group or sect, but the fact that most of the population is Sunni contributes to the strong feeling of cultural unity. The contemporary borders of Syria were drawn by France in the 1920’s, and there is still a strong pro-Arab mood that extends the national identity beyond the borders of the country. Food independence The country supplies almost all of its food. The popula- tion that works in the agriculture has decreased from 50% in 1970 to 23% nowadays, but the production has increased thanks to the Tabka dam, which provides irri- gation to farm lands. 99 Profile SYRIA
  10. 10. The Umayyad Mosque The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Mosque of the Umayyads or the Great Mosque of Damascus is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. The Umayyad Mosque possess- es great architectural and cultural-historic value. The great Mosque of Damascus is where the head of John the Baptist is kept. He is considered a prophet by Christians and Mus- lims alike. It is believed that the head was found during excavations in the mosque. Another reason that makes the mosque famous is the tomb of Saladin (a Muslim conqueror of the holy lands) that stands in a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque. Pope John Paul II visited the mosque in 2001, mainly to bow to the remains of John the Baptist. This is the first time a Pope visited a mosque. Al-Madina Souq, Aleppo Al-Madina Souq, or the City market, also called the Halan suk, is a covered market in Aleppo – the largest city in Syria. It is locat- ed westwards of the castle, known as the Citadel, in the central part of the Ancient city. The entire complex of the Ancient City, including the market and the castle, were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1986. With its long and narrow alleys, al-Madina Souq is the largest covered historic market in the world, with an approximate length of 13 kilometers. It is the main trade center of the city. It offers many different prod- ucts, mainly consumer goods, including luxury goods, such as raw silk from Iran, spices and dyes from India, and many others. Al-Madina Souq is also the home of local prod- ucts, such as wool, agricultural products and soap. UNIQUE PLACES IN SYRIA 1010 Profile SYRIA
  11. 11. SYRIAN CUISINE Syrian cuisine is influenced by the many cultures and civilizations that lived in its territory, especially during and after the Islamic era. The cuisine is very similar to that of other Arab countries – Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. Syrian cuisine includes dishes like “kibbeh” – a dish made from bulgur and minced lamb meat; “kebab halabi” – a type of kebab, served with hot tomato sauce and Hallab pepper; “waraq nab” (dolma) – rice or bulgur with minced meat, wrapped in grape leafs or stuffed into peppers or eggplant; hummus, tabule (sal- ad from bulgur and parsley); “fattoush” – flat bread (khubz ‘arabi), covered with salad; “labneh” – filtered yoghurt; “mujaddara“ – boiled lentils and rice, covered with fried onions; “shawarma” – a type of gyros with chicken, lamb or beef, served with garnish wrapped in a flat pitta bread. “Shawarma” is usually consumed with tabule, tomatoes and cucumbers. Syrians often serve selections of appe- tizers, known as mezze, before the main course. Typical mezzes are pastirma and sujuk, “shanklish” – well-ripened cow or goat cheese made into small balls covered with spices, usually mint; “za`atar” – beef and “man- aqish” cheese. The Arabic flatbread is always eaten together with mezze. Syrians prepare cookies known as “ka`ak” that are consumed with cheese. They are made from margarine and other ingredients, shaped in the form of pretzels and baked. Another type of cookies are filled with ground dates and butter and eaten with “jibbneh mashallale” – cheese made from yeast. The mixture of spices called “baharat mushakalah” can be found only in Syrian cuisine. 11 Profile SYRIA
  12. 12. BEVERAGES IN SYRIA Soft drinks Arabic coffee Arabic coffee is divided into two types: Turkish coffee (brewed without sugar, car- damom can be added or served pure, “qa- hwah sādah”) and Saudi coffee (beans are ground and brewed in front of the guests, cardamom or saffron is added, and it is served with dates or other candied fruit). Jallab Syrup made from carob, dates, grape mo- lasses and rose water. Served with crushed ice and sprinkled with pine nuts and raisins. Mate Dried leaves of yerba mate, brewed in hot water. The drink is being served in a special mate gourd with metal straw, called “ma- sassa”. The drink is typical of Latin America, and Syria is the biggest importer of mate in the world. Other traditional drinks in Syria are tea, ayran and polo (mint lemonade). Alcoholic drinks Arak Arak is a high alcoholic drink (40-60 de- grees) with aniseed aroma. It is usually diluted with water in 1:3 ratio, in a large vessel, called “barīq” and then it is poured in small cups filled with ice. When diluted, the drink becomes milk white in color. It is served as an aperitif with appetizer or a barbecue. Syrian beer The production and sale of beer in Syria is controlled by the government. The sales take place mainly through a chain of stores of the Syrian Military Social Ser- vice and via small shops in the Christian and Muslim quarters. The two main beer brands are Al-Shark (produced in Aleppo) and Barada (from Damascus). Imported beer is sold only in hotels. Another traditional alcoholic beverage con- sumed in Syria is wine. Alcohol consumption According to Islam, the consumption of alcohol is prohibited, but not everybody ob- serves this prohibition. The consumption of alcohol in Syria is 1.1 liters a year per capita. The minimum age in Syria for people who are allowed to buy and consume alcohol is 18 years of age. There is no prohibition for selling alcohol at specic hours, places or at specific events. There is full prohibition in the country for advertising alcoholic beverages, but spon- sorship and promotions are allowed. There are no requirements to have warning signs about health risks, to be placed on the bottles. . 12 Profile SYRIA
  13. 13. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 1 January: New Year’s Day Festivities continue till the next morning and many people spend the first of January resting and visiting friends and relatives. 8 March: Revolution Day The successful seizure of power is celebrated by the Arabian socialist party Baas in 1963. 21 March: Mother’s Day Respect and gratitude to- wards all mothers and older women is expressed. 17 April: Evacuation and Independence Day The evacuations of the last French troops is commemo- rated, the end of the French mandate in Syria and the declaration of independence of Syria on 17 April 1946. Variable date: Easter Is celebrated according to the Julian and Gregorian calendars. 1 May: Labor and Solidarity Day This day is an opportunity for some people to address demands for better work conditions. Many others use the day to rest and meet with friends and relatives. 6 May: Martyrs’ Day Commemoration of the Syri- ans executed in Damascus in 1916 by Jamal Pasha. Today the square where they were executed carries the name “Martyrs’ Square”. The day is celebrated by laying flowers and wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Damascus. Summer or autumn: Ramadan People visit their relatives and pay tribute to the el- ders. 1 August: Armed Forces Day The establishment of the Syrian armed forces is cele- brated. Autumn or winter: Kurban Bayram Sacrificial rite is made on this day, people visit rela- tives and poor people re- ceive aid. 6 October: October Liberation War The beginning of the Yom Kippur war in 1973 is cele- brated, during which Syria and Egypt attack Israel. As a result of this war, Syria loses the Golan Heights. 13 Profile SYRIA
  14. 14. Syria is a traditional society with a long cultural history. Family, religion, education, self-discipline and respect are very important forlocal people. The Syrian love for traditional art can be expressed through dances like al-Samah and Dabkeh. Marriage ceremonies are occasions for demonstration of folk traditions. PEOPLE IN SYRIA Men and women gather and socialize sep- arately, except for special occasions where the entire family should be present. Syrians spend most of their spare time in conversations, and the art of conversing is a highly appreciated skill. Men often make jokes among themselves by addressing each other with witty and smart insults. During social interactions people stay close to each other, talk in a loud voice and gesticulate a lot. Greetings have an enormous social signif- icance. They are often long and include questions, related to health. Greetings are usually accompanied with a handshake and sometimes with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks. Placing your right hand on the heart, when you meet someone is an expression of affection. Syrians are very emotional people. Men often walk shoulder to shoulder or hold- ing hands. Hugs and kisses on the cheek are typical between men, as well as be- tween women. Close physical contact in public places is typical between people of the same sex, rather than between hus- band and wife. 14 Profile SYRIA
  15. 15. Marriage According to the Muslim traditions, marriages are arranged by the families of the couple. Although there is a certain amount of leniency in observing this tradition, especially in the big cities and among richer people, it is still very rare for a couple to get married against the will of the family. According to the constitution of the country, the state has the ob- ligation to protect and encourage marriage. However, the number of marriages reduces due to the lack of homes, inflation, better education, high dowries and the high prices of weddings. Although both the state and the Muslim religion oppose the existing tradition of paying a dowry, this tradition is deeply rooted in Syria. It places a lot of pressure on the husband and his family who have to gather a big amount of money, but also on the wife who is forced to marry the candidate that is able to pay the most. Syria is the first country that introduced laws related to polygamy. In 1953 the country adopted the Law of Personal Status, according to which the man has to prove that he has enough financial resources to sustain two women in order to receive permission to take a second wife. Divorce In the past, the laws observed the Arab tradition, according to which the man had only to pronounce three times “I divorce you” (no matter whether his wife was present or not) to be divorced, but today divorce is given only with the court’s decision. Social unit The family is the main social unit in Syria. The oldest man in the family, usually the father or grandfather, has full authority and holds responsibility for the sustenance of the oth- er members of the family. Usually a couple of generations live together in one home. In some village areas, where women are still not allowed to leave home, the family is the only social outlet and a source of socializing with other people. FAMILY IN SYRIA 1515 Profile SYRIA
  16. 16. Class and caste Traditionally, Syrian society is strongly strat- ified. People of different class rarely have social contact with each other. People from the lower class are usually humble and ac- cept their social standing. Classes usually coincide with racial differ- ences, and people with lighter skin color hold higher political and economic posi- tions. The families of landowners and merchants have once held traditionally higher social and political positions. They have usually lived in Damascus and Aleppo and man- aged their lands from distance. Religious teachers, called “ulama” have also been very influential. They have been judges, teachers, political people and government advisors. In these roles, they have usually protected the existing traditions. Artisans, shopkeepers and a small working class lived in the cities. The Baath government introduced changes to this model. Some villagers have moved to live in the cities and joined the middle class; others own their own land today. But still there are many landless villagers. Af- ter the seizure of power by Baath, officers who participated in the coup d’état inherit the landowners and become the new elite of the country. Due to the development of education, the middle class has expanded. Symbols of social stratification Rich and educated people have a very mod- ern way of life, typical of the West. Every- body, except the poorest people, have a TV and radio, but only the richest can afford air-conditioners, dishwashers and micro- wave ovens. Clothing is the other indicator of social class. Different tribes and villages wear clothes with distinctive patterns and colors. Men usually wear long togas, called kaf- tans, while women wear long gowns which reveal only their palms and feet. Both men and women cover their heads. The edu- cated high class prefers the western style of dressing – women wear bright colors, jewelry, make-up and high heels, and men wear stylish trousers and shirts. Jeans and T-shirts are rare, as well as short trousers and skirts and clothes with bare shoulders. Traditionally, when women from a certain family wear long gowns and have their fac- es veiled, it is a symbol of wealth and high status. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION 16 Profile SYRIA
  17. 17. MEN AND WOMEN IN SYRIA 17 Labor distribution In small towns, women traditionally take care of the household and rarely leave their home. In villages, women not only take care of the household, but also help with the field work. Despite the fact that women are officially allowed to work outside their home, they often meet serious ob- stacles. For example, the government department on moral issues investigates each woman before allowing her to take a state position. Less than 11% of women of working age work outside their homes. 80% of them work in the field of agriculture. The rest of the women work in the textile and tobacco industries, and only 1% hold administrative or mana- gerial positions. There are only a few women in state positions in the government, while in the capital some women work in hardware or electrical stores. Many women also do domestic work. Comparative status of men and women The Baath party is one of the first in the Arab world to declare that among one of its main goals is women’s emancipation and equality between men and women. According to the constitution, adopted in 1964, all citi- zens of Syria have equal rights. Today women are enti- tled to the same education as men, and they also have the right to work on equal terms with men. However, the traditional and prevailing view is that women are inferior to men. The woman is considered property of the man and not a separate person. Until the marriage, a woman is viewed as the daughter of the father, and after she gives birth to a son, she is viewed as a wife and a mother. 17 Profile SYRIA
  18. 18. RULES AND RESTRICTIONS Greetings • Shake hands when meetings someone or saying goodbye. • When meeting a Syrian, always ask about their health. • Kissing the hand and raising the fingers of the right hand towards the mouth is an expression of respect. When visiting Follow the host’s example – if he takes off his shoes before entering his home, do the same. If you have been invited to some- body’s home, bring a small gift (but do not bring alcohol or art objects depicting people). A suitable gift could be pastry or candy. Do not enquire about the host’s wife. If you meet her, shake hands with her, but only if she reaches out her hand first. Keep to non-formal conversation – do not talk about business during a social meeting with a business partner. Refrain from making compliments about a specific decorative object in the home of your host, otherwise he might feel obliged to give it to you as a gift. If you are invited to sit on the floor, sit with legs crossed. At the table Never touch the food before the host has said “Bismillah” and invited you to take from it. Eat only with your right hand and never pass food with your left hand – it is consid- ered to be dirty. Never cut the traditional Syrian bread with a knife, break off a piece of bread with your hand. Do not overextend your visit. The third cup of tea or coffee is usually considered an invitation to leave. Do not expect stores, offices and markets to be open on Friday, the holy day of the Muslims (the work week is from Saturday to Thursday). It is normal for merchants to offer you coffee or cigarettes. Do not refuse. Do not leave your coffee half drunk. If you are offered a second or third cup, accept it. However, accepting a fourth cup of coffee is considered inappropriate. 1818 Profile SYRIA
  19. 19. USEFUL INFORMATION If you are a woman and you are riding in a taxi alone, sit on the back seat, diagonally from the driver. Do not point at people, this is considered to be rude. When sitting, do not keep your legs crossed in front of someone older than you – it is considered disrespectful. Shaking your head from left to right means “I don’t understand”. Shaking your head up and down, accompa- nied with “tz” means “no”. Nodding your head downwards means “yes”. Clothing Women are allowed to wear short sleeves in tourist places and in the centres of big cities. In village areas, when visiting places with religious significance, sleeves should cover at least the elbows. It is recommended to cover your head when visiting Islamic or Orthodox religious sites, as well as when you don’t want to at- tract too much attention. Also avoid wear- ing short trousers when visiting religious sites. In bigger cities and places visited by tourists you can wear clothes typical for the West. It is completely acceptable to wear jeans and a T-shirt in Damascus. In remote rural areas and the Muslim quar- ters it is better to wear more conservative clothing – long trousers and a shirt with long sleeves. 1919 Profile SYRIA
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