Syria: the only way is up

Syria: the only way is up

Journalist Tom Gara recently wrote this article (registration required) for FT Tilt – a short piece which takes info from a blog post by Syria analyst Joshua Landis, which in turn digests 2008 figures from the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics. In summary: • Syria’s entire hotel industry employs just 11,224 people. This represents 0.05% of the Syrian population of 22.5 million. Even…

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Last Out, First In

Last Out, First In

Five weeks since I blogged. It’s a new world. Tunisia was amazing. Egypt is astounding. Bahrain boggles the imagination. Libya is off the scale. At the time of writing, none of those 4 revolutions is resolved. And there is also Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, even – staggeringly – Syria. Of a different character, but no less…

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From Black to Red

From Black to Red

Last week the Jordan Times reported that the tourism ministers of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey were proposing a common tourist visa valid across all four countries. From the Black Sea to the Red Sea, from Istanbul to Damascus, and from Ephesus to Baalbek to Palmyra to Petra, one visa would fit all. A great…

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Top Gear, sour grapes

Top Gear, sour grapes

It was last January – Jan 2010, that is – when I first heard that a BBC researcher from Top Gear was interested in having a chat with me about a Christmas special they were planning, where the three presenters – Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May – would drive across the Middle East….

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The age of the train

The age of the train

After a generation of inaction – and increasingly bad traffic congestion – the six GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) have finally started to build decent public transport systems. Dubai’s metro opens in a few days’ time. Abu Dhabi’s metro is expected within five years, alongside an urban tram network….

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