What comes in your mind when you think about Syria? War? Refugees? Or something else?
Of course it may be different for people from different part of the world. But overall people only think what the media, international news showcases to the world. Today in this article, I will try to break some stereotypes and share some important facts about Syria.
Syria, located in western Asia, neighbouring Lebanon and Israel on the southwest side, Jordan on the south and Turkey on the north. Syria despite having a rich ancient history, is majorly known as the home of terror to the world. It has been marginalised to just a small third world middle-east country. Through this article, I would not highlight the war and terrorism in Syria, as it is overly showcased by the International news. But some beautiful facts about Syria which will help you to not only break stereotypes but also understand, there is always more to the story.
Barbara is a Brazilian and our dear friend who lives there. Barbara has been married to a Syrian man. She is living there for a few years now. She is the one who enlightened us about the real Syria. If you want to know more about Syria, and what the life looks like, do follow her on her Instagram @brazukanasiria
7 Facts about Syria breaking the stereotypes:-
1. Syrians do not speak Syrian, They speak Arabic.
Yes! you heard it right. Syrian is not even a language. They speak Arabic, which is their national language. Syrians do not speak Israeli, french or any other language in particular. ( because they had a history). Although, several modern Arabic dialects are used in everyday life. Most notably Levantine in the west and Mesopotamian in the northeast.
So next time if you meet a Syrian, do not ask them if they speak Syrian.
2. Syria has all 4 seasons and it’s not always dry and hot.
Syria is located in the middle east. But that does not mean they have hot and dry weather throughout the year. Also, it snows as well in Syria. Shocked to hear that? Check the photo below of Damascus in winters. Syria has all 4 seasons, Summer, Spring, Autumn And winters. The summers are extremely hot and dry. Winters in Syria can be even more extreme, with temperature going below 0 degrees in several areas. It can snow a lot during the winters from November to January.
3. Syria is not completely desert. Also, people do not live in tents and ride camels.
People often think that Arab countries mean it’s all desert, and people ride camels. But this is a serious misconception. Although 50% of Syria is covered in Desert that still doesn’t explain the complete geography of Syria. They have several mountains, hills and even beaches. Yes! You heard it right, they have beaches around the Mediterranean coast.
Syria’s highest mountain peak , Mt. Hermon stands at 9232 ft. Significant water bodies include Lake al-Assad (a man-made reservoir,) created by a dam on the Euphrates River.
So yes! Syria is not just boring desert but a beautiful country with different geographic sites.
4. Syria is not completely a Muslim Country.
Another stereotype about being an Arab country. Everyone thinks that Arabs means Muslims. Well, this can be partially true for some Arab countries, but not for Syria. Syria is dominantly Muslim country as they have 70-75% Muslims. However, they also have 15-16% Christians, 10% non-religious people, 1% of Jews and rest have other religions. But this doesn’t mean they are intolerant to the minority religions. In their culture, they respect all these religions and have religious harmony.
You will also be surprised to know they also celebrate Christmas. The cities get decorated and people have a merry time, exchanging gifts, enjoying the festival with their families.
5. Alcohol is not banned in Syria.
Another stereotypical view which many people have. Unlike many Muslim dominated countries, Alcohol is not banned in Syria. In fact, Syria has its own beers, Al Chark R, Barada beer, are few of the many names of famous beers from Syria. This culture of drinking in Syria is from ancient times and it continues until today.
Syrians do respect the religious values of muslims and other cultures. But surely, when it comes to rules, they do not prohibit alcohol consumption in the country.
6. Hijab is not mandatory clothing for women and girls.
As I mentioned above, Syria is not a Muslim country. There is no such law in Syria, that women and girls have to wear Hijab as a part of their clothing. Also, Syrian women are not oppressed and are given valuable status in the Syrian Society. I am not saying they are ranked highly when it comes to feminism or gender equality. But definitely, women are dignified and respected in their society.
They do not have to wear a certain type of clothing decided by the males or according to religion. A Christian woman can wear a hijab and Muslim women can not wear a Hijab, and it still will be considered okay in society.
7. Syria is very much safe to travel & Syrians are very good with hospitality.
On Barbara’s Instagram you can check her posts, and pictures about Syria. And you will see, Syria is nothing like what international media shows. It’s very much safe now. The city of Idlib ( last war zone) Aleppo, Damascus, the capital of Syria are very much safe for people to travel.
Of course, you can get into dangerous situations or can be robbed in uncertain areas, but that depends on the place and the time of the day. Overall, you will find people having fun and having a normal life in Syria, enjoying their festivals, markets and so on.
So yes, if you are planning to visit Syria, You do not have to worry so much when it comes to safety. By that, I do not mean you can roam freely and wherever you wish to roam around in the country. It is highly advised, you take a govt. authorised travel guide and visit places which are not anymore under war.
When it comes to hospitality, Syrians are very open-hearted. They are easy to become friends with and are always ready to help you with routes as well. Syrian Culture, in general, is very welcoming and generous.
I am sure by now, you must be happy to learn about real Syria. There are many such amazing facts about Syria to be discovered. My purpose behind writing this post was to highlight the positives and give you all a reason to look as Syria and Syrians with a different view.
A quick last fact, Do you know Steve Jobs was born to a Syrian father? The man who made the biggest computer and electronics company, Apple.
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