While Damascus (and Syria in general) offers a treasure trove of fascinating cultural sites, its fair to say that it is not a party place like nearby Beirut . . . yet. Though its tourism infrastructure is just evolving after years of underinvestment, those in the trade have seen a solid uptick in European visitors. And as the government tries to privatize more sectors of the economy, one can see green shoots of economic liberalization. A KFC and Ford dealership recently opened, and the country launched its own stock exchange earlier this year. Ive also heard that overseas Syrians are beginning to return home, sensing new business opportunities.
Damascus is a very real place; not commercial . . . yet! You wont see Prada and Chanel stores dotting a mall and thats precisely why I encourage travelers to consider Syria as a fascinating and culturally enriching off-the-path destination.