We start off with a very special goodbye from Brian Anthony…
Brian has lived, taught, and blogged from Damascus for more than two years, he returned to the US a couple of months ago… We all want to wish him the best of luck.
This was his last goodbye post on his blog, In The Axis…
In writing this blog, I've tried to present a personal view of everyday life in the Middle East. With few exceptions, I tried to steer clear of politics and to focus on the human element, that which is so regrettably missing from the sometimes unrecognizable caricature of the Middle East we get through our politicians, our media, and our own cultural assumptions. I don't claim to have been right about everything, just honest about what I saw. I hope you found something here worthwhile, and that my experiences encouraged someone somewhere to take a deeper look.
Moving on to Middle East politics…
Ammar, is explaining why he an “Unreasonable Heretic”. Why Democracy and Development are the real national cause…
A friend told me not too long ago that some people tend to find my position on the Assads to be somewhat unreasonable. After all, some of their stands and policies, especially with regard to the peace process and the Arab-Israeli Conflict seem to reflect how the majority of people in Syria and elsewhere in the region and the world feel and think. So why we not support them on these matters? Wouldn't this be the patriotic thing to do, regardless of how we feel about their internal policies?
The aim of the programme is to address mounting social and economic problems in the country and, in particular, reduce poverty and regional disparities. The key targets of the programme are to:
1) improve governance
2) improve transparency and accountability
3) create a participatory democratic society
4) create a socially responsible economy
5) generate sustainable economic growth
6) generate higher employment to improve human development and reduce poverty
Pride, because Syria has ALWAYS offered all it has, to share with anyone who needs it.. Even in the midst of the worsening Iraqi refugee crisis, Syria and the Syrians were willing to open their homes, and their hearts, to refugees from another neighbour.. The Lebanese were given the same welcome.. the same hospitality, if not more…. Amazement, because most Syrians are struggling to make ends meet in their everyday lives.. never mind sharing what scarce resources they have with others!!.. I have heard endless first-hand accounts from relatives of Iraqi friends about the hospitality of the ordinary Syrian people towards the Iraqis.. I will not bore you with such tales, amazing and incredible as they are… but, hey.. that is the Syrian way.. throughout the ages.. so, perhaps, I shouldn't be amazed!..
Abu Fares’ newest kitchen post is guaranteed to win back the appetite you lost reading about politics. Sayadieh bi Samak (Roasted Fish and Rice), is one of the most famous dishes around the Syrian coast. And as he says, Very simple, Very delicious…
In Tartous and in all coastal cities around the world no doubt, fish is an important part of our diet. There are so many ways to prepare various types of seafood that nobody can truly claim any one particular recipe. In my opinion, when it comes to cooking fish, the simpler the better. The sea provides us with the most delicious source of animal protein. Little manipulation is needed to enhance or to bring out the taste of the already scrumptious white meat. Besides, the purpose of this post is to get anyone to be able to go out to the local supermarket or better yet a nearby fish market, grab some fish, rice and a few ingredients and get down to eat a most delicious plate in a little over an hour.
Yes! And the one behind it is Ernest Hamwi, a young Syrian immigrant from around Damascus, who was selling Arabic pastry at a trade fair in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904. Next to Hamwi in the fair was an ice cream vendor, who was making good sales that at some point he ran out of cups. Hamwi came to his aid by rolling the ice cream in crisp wafers that he used to make zalabia (known in Syria as ‘awwameh).
I was impressed with those three young men as an establishment. I wasn't impressed with their music at all (which is problematic since they presented themselves as musicians).. but I was very impressed with the clever marketing and image they created.. the scenography (from scene choreography) was very impressive, although full with exaggerated gestures, annoying facial expressions and erratic head movement. However, their presence on stage: three young men, all dressed in black, and all looking the same (they look remarkably alike) added some ritualistic aura to the performance. and the fact that those Ouds they were playing were made by one of the brothers, and that their father was an Oud Maker, and the fact that all of them still live in Ramallah… well…the myth outdid the reality and people go to see this phenomenon differently..