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A fire in Saruja’s Damascus neighborhood…a different story from “Little Istanbul”



A fire in Saruja’s Damascus neighborhood…a different story from “Little Istanbul”

Fires in the old neighborhoods of Damascus have become a recurring scene every year, and although the official version of the circumstances of these incidents is “going in one direction”, the Syrian opposition has become accustomed to it over the years. They present a “different story” that is tainted with suspicion and thereby make allegations based on what happened “really happened”.

The accusations were often linked to Iran and the Syrian regime’s “hidden goals”, which was reflected in the wake of Monday’s flames that engulfed several ancient and ancient houses in the Damascus neighborhood of Saroja, including the palace of Abdul-al Rahman Pasha al-Yusef, the second Prince of Hajj during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid.

The Syrian government did not release the cause of the massive fire, while the semi-official Al-Watan newspaper reported that “investigations into the issue are underway”, and Damascus Governor Muhammad Tariq Girishadi said there were “casualties”. The actual value of the damage is considered historical rather than material.”

As he put it, what the fire left behind was “incalculable material, especially the old Arab houses which are our civilization, culture and heritage”.

The Saroja fire, considered one of the most important old neighborhoods in Syria’s capital Damascus, comes after a series of fires that have hit nearby neighborhoods in recent years.

In April 2016, a fire destroyed more than 80 shops in al-Azrooni market behind the mosque near the shrine of Mrs. Ruqayyah, and in July 2017 in Bab al-Jabiya area (The Wool Market) in Damascus, and similar incidents were recorded later, in 2020 in the capital. Including hitting one of the most popular commercial markets, Al-Busuriya district.

“Legacy Turned to Ashes”

The old neighborhoods of Damascus hold great symbolism among the capital’s population and Syrians in general, and are seen as a heritage image documenting a civilization that spread over previous decades, so fires often excavate “deep scars.” They cry over “past memories” that have turned to ashes.

The above reflected after images and video footage documenting the fire’s losses in the Sarujah neighborhood circulated, as the fire destroyed more than 15 archaeological sites, including part of Abd al-Rahman Pasha al-Youssef’s palace and house. In addition to the House of Volumes and Manuscripts, Khaled al-Azmin, one of the founders of the Syrian state and the most famous prime minister in its history, Syrian archeology and historical maps.

Abd al-Rahman Pasha al-Yusef’s palace is considered “a unique historical architectural masterpiece in the city of Damascus”, according to Syrian historian and researcher Abd al-Razzaq Mowas, explaining that “it was built during the reign of of the Ottoman authorities in 1866, Abdul-Aziz Khan.”

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The palace is considered one of the most beautiful Damascene houses of the Ottoman era and is spread over an area of ​​2000 square meters.

Pasha al-Yusef Shami was the Amir of the Pilgrimage and held his position between 1892 and 1918, heading a number of government positions during the reign of King Faisal, including President of the Council of Representatives, the Senate, and the Shura Council. 1919.

According to the Syrian historian Mowaz, his palace, which was consumed by fire, was distinguished by its “beauty and magnificent architectural details”, especially since Pasha al-Yusef made a lot of efforts to decorate and expand it, and did not change it. Not only is it a major historical site, but “a center of beauty and architectural art in the heart of the capital, Damascus.”

The Syrian engineer, Mazar Sharbaji, points out that “Sarujah has a different story, different from other neighborhoods in the capital city of Damascus” and says that it was “the first city outside the market during the days of Ottoman rule.” “

The neighborhood is also considered “the residential center of the Ottoman rule in Damascus and the residence of the leaders at the time”.

Sharbaji adds on the “Al-Hurrah” website: “The neighborhood was called Little Istanbul. In urban terms it consists of a straight street, and most of the houses in it are decorated with Turkish images, decorations and paintings from the cities of Yalova, Bursa and others.”

According to the Syrian engineer, ownership of real estate in Saroja has not been changed since Ottoman times, and “if an owner there wants to buy or sell a house, he is obliged to look at the Ottoman title document.”

“In the past there have been efforts by the regime to improve and de-clutter the area, the first step of which was the opening of Al-Thawra Street and the construction of modern buildings in the surrounding area.”

Sharbaji doesn’t rule out that “fires hitting old neighborhoods are fabricated on the grounds that they could be the beginning of an erasure of troubled real estate in the area.”

The fires are unlikely to have been caused by causes related to “electrical short circuits” previously pointed out by Syrian regime media, with the electricity network barely reaching the city’s neighborhoods and in some “non-existent”.

Syrian opposition often accuses Iran of being behind the fire, on the grounds that “the old Damascus area has religious status for Iranians.”

However, the above has not yet been confirmed by any sources at the time when the government of the Syrian regime is dealing with a single policy, announcing the extent of losses and damages and the efforts of firefighters.

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What did Zorian say?

Ahmad Mowaz Al-Khatib, the first leader of the Syrian opposition coalition, wrote on Twitter: “The systematic destruction of Syria and its identity, destruction from destruction of land and people, men, women and children, trees and stones. Half of Saroja market burned yesterday with its main features.”

He continued: “The most important of them is the Center for Historical Documents, and it contains half of the history of Syria (five million documents) and the house of Abd al-Rahman Pasha al-Yusef, the Emir of Hajj in the Ottoman Empire.”

Abdul Hadi al-Ani, a Syrian content producer, added: “Historical documents and a traditional house in Sarujah have also been reduced to ashes. The place is visited by old people and people interested in genealogy, documents and extracting family trees. For example, the lineage goes back to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam.”

Al-Ani continued: “Who is in the interest of all these documents being burned? Who is in the interest of all this historical information about the disappearance of the people of the Levant?”

Rasheed Kamal wrote on Facebook: “A lot has been written about the Saruja fire, from lamentations to accusations of a conspiracy to blame the fire for the purpose of selling the region to the Iranians. I read everything, felt everything. It was written like a story about the whole of Syria, but compressed in time and space. .”

And Kamal opined that “when factors such as old building, historical neglect, encroachments, dominance of the place, lack of planning come together, it is only a matter of time before everything burns down”.

And he added, “Sarujah or something else, but the whole of Syria. We have no plan, no readiness, no personnel to manage it urbanally, and we have to surrender to the idea of ​​failure and hierarchical accumulation. Corruption is the result of fire once in Sarujah and once in all of Syria.” .”

However, the Syrian writer and historian Saad Fanzah expressed a different opinion on this: “Whoever started the Sarujah fire had previously demolished and relocated the house of Haqi al-Azm in the Ottoman Bank and Midat ​​Pasha market. Its architectural and decorative valuables and sold it to Qatar.”

“Today, the plan to destroy the Ottoman historical monuments of Damascus seems to be in favor of the invaders of the new era, and it includes their tools and agents,” Fanza added, citing people’s testimonies, adding that “nobody denies it.” Selling his shops and archaeological houses to an Iranian buyer would burn down the whole neighborhood.”

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“Breaking the neck of property”

And Damascus Governor Girishadi noted that “the reason for the spread of fire in Saroja is due to the presence of highly flammable materials (flames) which are considered to burn faster than gasoline, and there are constant warnings.”

“One of the Arab houses belonging to the antiquities and museums caught fire because it houses many professional workshops,” he pointed out.

For his part, the Syrian researcher, Muhammad Munir al-Faqeer, explains that the fire, which occurred earlier or engulfed the ancient houses in Saroja, “occurs, either real or imagined, in areas close to Iranian holy shrines.”

He told Al-Hura: “Iran is interested in having assets near these limits that it claims.”

He added, “Homeowners in the old neighborhoods of Damascus are forced to sell to the Iranians, and if they refuse, they are pressured one way or the other, leading to fires.”

The restoration process requires “difficult permits because the area is purely archaeological, so this complicated cycle eventually forces the homeowner to sell under pressure,” Poor believes.

The Syrian researcher adds that the fires spread in a line stretching from the east of the Umayyad Mosque to Saroja, and that they were fabricated.

This area is associated with Iranian shrines including “Sayida Ruqayyah” and “Mashhad al-Husayn”.

Al-Faqeer, on the other hand, continues after his question that “there is data indicating the activities overseen by the Damascus Governorate to re-inspect and evaluate the properties of the old neighborhoods of Damascus, especially those of travelers and emigrants.”

According to the Syrian researcher, “There are other data about real estate and efforts to play with maps to identify and release assets, and it is related to the presence of the property geographically based on its location, registration, shape, image. , ownership and who owns it.”

And he adds, “What’s happening with the fire is that the Damascus governorate is trying to break the property’s neck. An antique is ready for a building.”

The Syrian engineer, Sharbaji, believes that, as he puts it, “God cannot have fire,” and that “there is great negligence in the regime, and the fabrication of incidents is not from the direction of the president, but from the security services.”

Sharbaji believes that “the area is archaeologically documented and registered with UNESCO, and the government should protect it through precautions and procedures”, and feels that “the government should take responsibility for the heritage”.

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Emirates News Agency – Sultan Bin Sulayem: DP World Group’s portfolio reaches 137 terminals in over 60 countries, including 94 seaports.



Emirates News Agency – Sultan Bin Sulayem: DP World Group’s portfolio reaches 137 terminals in over 60 countries, including 94 seaports.

  • Sultan Bin Sulayem: DP World Group's portfolio reaches 137 terminals in more than 60 countries, including 94 seaports.


During the session on “Business in a Changing World: Creating Opportunities and Promoting Prosperity” as part of the Arab Media Forum’s first day of activities.
“The company’s share of global container traffic is 11% and it is currently considered one of the fastest-handling companies.”
“Investments worth 3 billion riyals to improve operations at Jeddah Islamic Port in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and expected business growth.”
“Supply chain and logistics is one of the most fragile industries around the world, and we are working to overcome their challenges to deliver speed, cost and quality to our customers, including shipping and merchants.”
“DB World acquired the largest private freight train operator in India and we are currently in talks to acquire the largest state-owned operator to meet the needs of our customers.”
“The Economic Corridor project between India, the Middle East and Central Europe represents an addition and support to many existing modes of transport, and will not adversely affect the movement of traffic through the Suez Canal, an essential water artery to the world. .”
DUBAI, 26th September / WAM / Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Ports World Group (DB World), confirmed that the company currently has excellent experience in managing and developing ports and logistics facilities. The world and it has moved past the stage of managing and operating ports. It is strongly involved in logistics services and elements of supply chains to provide rapid solutions to move traffic and trade from factory to consumer. Manufacturers can reach their customers at a very low cost and in a very short time, which means that the volume of global container traffic is currently about 11%, and it is one of the fastest companies in loading and unloading cargo. It started operating outside the country at the end of the nineties, at the request of shipping companies that wanted to benefit from the speed we were finishing, starting with Jeddah Islamic Port in the sister Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (DP World). ) Jebel Ali has vast experience in port management, its current portfolio comprises 137 terminals in more than 60 countries including 94 seaports worldwide.
This took place as part of the activities of the first day of the twenty-first session, with an interview by author and journalist Imad Al-Din Adeeb on the topic “Business in a Changing World: Creating Opportunities and Promoting Prosperity”. The Cabinet of the Arab Media Forum held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, may God protect him.
His Highness Sultan Bin Sulayem revealed that DB World Group is investing about 3 billion Saudi Riyals to improve operations at Jeddah Islamic Port. Across the world’s continents and employing more than 106,000 employees, DP World supports these ports with Emirati employees and a parent company in Dubai, in addition to employees from all countries with a global presence, representing its new investments. Jeddah Port has Saudi Arabia’s 2030 vision and expected increase in trade traffic.
On the trend of expanding the company’s activities into logistics services around the world, His Highness Sultan Bin Sulayem said that the company is primarily focused on managing its own and operated ports around the world and operating them with giant cranes and high-tech systems. , but found that there are other factors outside of ports that can affect our needs for speed. Dealing with roads, infrastructure, storage areas, inland shipping, etc. Fast delivery of products from factory to dealer worldwide. In the period from 2016 to 2021, it invested more than $6 billion to acquire companies associated with the chain of operations. He announced that the company is currently in talks to buy cargo from ports to distributors in India to buy India’s largest private rail companies to deal with slow movement of traffic through trucks, supply and logistics services and building e-commerce and digitization services. Acquisition of India’s largest state-owned railway company.
Bin Sulaym said: “DP World Group is currently one of the largest operators in India, Britain, Australia, Peru, Canada and other countries in the world, and it has contributed to the growth and development of its customers’ work, including shipping. Companies and shipping companies around the world, shipping, loading and Out of the ports as a result of the work standards we adhere to in terms of unloading and transportation,” he said, pointing to the group’s investment in buying trucking companies for transportation. Goods and warehouses serving 154,000 points of sale in Nigeria, he added: “We distribute goods to traders in over 20 African countries.”
Sultan bin Sulaymud emphasized that the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor project, announced during the G20 summit in India this September, will enhance and complement the integration and economic connectivity between Asia and Europe. Currently supporting the various trade routes and modes of transport that connect the different continents of the world, the ports contribute to the facilitation of transport operations, insisting that the project will not affect the level of work on the Suez Canal, the country’s vital main artery. Global trade movement.

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Bin Sulaym said, “Trains are very important and not a new means of transport. There are old railway lines between China and Russia and China and Europe. However, sea transport is the largest proportion of global freight transport because they cannot be distributed. Its cost is much cheaper than other means of transport. , followed by… transportation by trucks, then transportation by trains, then transportation by air, is more expensive. Therefore, an economic corridor between India and Europe will add to and benefit the Middle East traffic movement and in some cases contribute to its speed, especially in case of urgent crises in waterways. By providing means of transport, land emphasizes that “trains, regardless of their size, cannot transport. The same number and size of containers that can pass through waterways.
He emphasized the importance of proliferation and diversification of transport modes for rapid arrival of goods, and the fact that supply chains and logistics around the world are weak and technologically underdeveloped, making it a challenge to increase demand for goods and trade. , we make speed and quality a top priority in our operations to deliver speed and quality to shipping companies, merchants and consumers. And the cost is reasonable, with shipping costs reaching $13,000 per container during the Covid-19 crisis. $2,500 per container based on transportation speed and cost as ports are closed, factories and containers are piling up goods and are out of stock.

Islam al-Husayn / Ahmad Jamal

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Emirates News Agency – International hotels expand in Emirates to benefit from tourism boom



Emirates News Agency – International hotels expand in Emirates to benefit from tourism boom

From/ Rami Sami..

ABU DHABI, September 26 / WAM / International hotels are set to benefit from the UAE’s booming growth and tourism recovery. The hotel occupancy rate in the country is one of the highest in the world.

In a statement to Emirates News Agency WAM on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit 2023 in the capital Abu Dhabi, international hotel executives said the UAE has been a success thanks to the vision of smart leadership. Developing its tourism policy and infrastructure in line with best international practices, it becomes a sustainable destination for tourists from all over the world. Thanks to its top-class hotel facilities and various tourist and heritage attractions, its security and stability, its strategic location and its variety of activities, through which all It maintains its regional and global leadership as a top tourist destination that caters to all tastes.

The UAE government has launched national initiatives and strategies to support the development of the tourism sector, as it is a key contributor to the diversification of the national economy and a key contributor to the UAE’s competitiveness on the global tourism map. , increasing investments in several tourism sectors, creating new tourism and entertainment projects in various emirates, the state and the inauguration of new airports, which confirm the effectiveness of the sustainable tourism policies adopted by the emirates.

Officials pointed to the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031, which consolidates the country’s position as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, improves its competitiveness by attracting 100 billion UAE dirhams in additional tourism investments and doubles the number of tourists. 40 million, with an expected GDP of 450 billion dirhams. Total by 2031.

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According to official data, the tourism sector in the country achieved strong results last year, especially hotel companies that received 25 million guests in 2022, a 30% increase over 2021 and increased the number of tourist nights to 91 million nights in 2022. 18% growth rate in 2021, and hotel company revenue will reach 38 billion dirhams in 2022, an increase of 35% compared to 2021, with an additional 1,198 hotel companies and hotel occupancy rate will reach 71%.

Makhram Al-Zeer, Rotana Hotel Management’s vice president of development, said the company is working to expand its presence in the UAE specifically and globally as part of its plans to expand into new global markets, including the United. The Kingdom, in addition to entering the market by opening two new hotels, is Georgian, which will open a new hotel in 2026.

In the past two years, Rotana has opened 3 hotels in the Emirates and is looking forward to opening a new hotel next year at Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, which will include 217 hotel apartments. Tourism growth and high hotel occupancy rates, which currently has 36 hotels in the UAE including 10,159 rooms, indicate that “Rotana” is expanding its portfolio of projects and the scope of its operations to 30 new ones. Over the next three years, approximately 5,800 additional rooms will be added to Rotana’s portfolio of hotels worldwide.

Makram indicated that he expects to open a new hotel in Al-Khobar in Saudi Arabia and a hotel in Manama in the Kingdom of Bahrain in the next year. A number of new projects are planned for 2024, including the opening of a new hotel in Dakar, Senegal, by 2026 and an entry into the Algerian market, while Rotana is preparing to open several new hotels in its final quarter. Year in Doha, Qatar and Istanbul, Turkey.

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For his part, Siegfried Nerhus, Deutsche Hospitality’s Vice President for the Middle East, said the UAE has astute leadership, encouraging the tourism and hotel industry to grow and prosper, while providing a fertile environment for expansion and spread across the country’s emirates. Pointing to the UAE, it has become a global hub for the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industry. It has established itself as a preferred destination for business, tourism and leisure, contributing significantly to international tourist arrivals. Enjoy dynamic offers and unique attractions.

Nerhus added that the UAE embraces special tourism events such as the Future Hospitality Summit, which provide a great opportunity to understand emerging regional trends and guest preferences, interact with stakeholders and exchange ideas. Strategies to support the growth of the sector, and more investments to support growth and development.

He pointed to Deutsche Hospitality’s commitment to expanding and enriching its hotel portfolio in the country, as the possibility of expanding our German hospitality brand with international H Group hotels and expanding into the Middle East region is currently being considered. On the United Arab Emirates.

For his part, Eli Melki, vice president of development for the Middle East, Greece, Cyprus and Pakistan at Radisson Hotel Group, said the group recently saw more expansion in the UAE with the opening of a hotel in Palm Jumeirah. In Dubai, the UAE in particular remains a key market for the group while the group is eyeing more expansion opportunities in the country.

Melki pointed out the importance of national policies and initiatives taken by the UAE to support the development of the tourism sector, making it an ideal destination for tourists from all over the world, reflecting the country’s commitment to sustainable tourism and its global leadership. In this sector, the UAE has made huge investments in tourism and hotel projects.

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Calls for UN support encourage coups



Calls for UN support encourage coups

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok protested the United Nations invitation of army chief Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to participate in UN General Assembly meetings, saying it was sending very dangerous signals. Military coups on the African continent.

Hamdok, along with the sovereign and members of the Council of Ministers, who were overthrown by the military in the October 25, 2021 coup, sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Anthony Guterres, in which they said, “This call contradicts international positions rejecting the coup that halted the democratic transition process in Sudan”.

In addition to Hamdok, the letter received by Ashark al-Awsad was signed by three members of the Sovereignty Council: Muhammad al-Faqi Sulaiman, al-Tahar Hajar and Muhammad Hassan al-Taishi. Key ministers in Hamdok’s government headed by Council Affairs Minister Khalid Umar Yusuf also signed.

Al-Burhan warns at the United Nations against the expansion of Sudan’s war into neighboring countries

Constitutional collapse

A military element led by Lt. Gen. al-Burhan led a military coup against the interim civilian government, leading to a complete constitutional collapse in the country, Hamdok’s interim civilian government said in a letter to the United Nations. of a de facto government, which later collapsed upon the outbreak of war.On April 15, the direct result of a coup against the civilian government carried out by both sides of the current war, the military and the Quick Support. forces.

The African Union, the UN, rejected the military coup that undermined Hamdok’s civilian government. The letter also referred to the positions of the Security Council and the European Union, and halted the process of democratic transition in Sudan. Condemning the coup d’état and demanding the return of power to the people.

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Clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (AP) have left the capital, Khartoum, in a cloud of smoke.

Contradictory positions

The letter promises to invite the military commander to attend United Nations General Assembly meetings as Sudan’s representative, which is contrary to declared international positions and helps prolong the ongoing war in Sudan. The recent rise in military coups on the African continent.

On October 25, the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Army, announced the dissolution of the Sovereignty Council and the Council of Ministers, the suspension of certain provisions of the constitutional document governing the interim period, and the arrest of the Prime Minister. Minister and members of the Sovereign Council and Ministers of the Executive.

In light of these actions by the Sudanese military, the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership, describing it as an unconstitutional power grab, and the United States and the World Bank froze aid to Sudan, making it conditional on its reinstatement. Power to civil forces.

The tower of Sudan’s largest oil company, the Nile Company, burns amid fierce fighting, September 17 (AFP)

The MIG shot down the plane

On the ground, on Monday, a MIG military aircraft belonging to the Sudanese army was shot down by Rapid Support Forces, as fighting intensified in several parts of the capital city of Khartoum. Residents of neighborhoods adjacent to the military headquarters in central Khartoum reported violent clashes between the two sides and exchanges of artillery and heavy weapons around the military’s key military headquarters. For the tenth day in a row, the Rapid Support Forces attack with the aim of controlling the military command.

According to witnesses who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, the army bombarded the offensive forces with drones, leading to thick columns of black smoke in the targeted area. South of Khartoum.

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Heavy artillery fire was heard in Al-Zarif, West, Burri, Imdad Nasser and the capital Khartoum all east of the Nile.

In a statement on the “X” site (formerly Twitter), the Rapid Support Forces announced the downing of the second Army MIG fighter jet in two days.

The aircraft “dropped bombs on innocent civilians and continued to destroy public facilities and markets,” the Rapid Support Forces said. Remnants and elements of the defunct Burhan-led National Congress regime adopted a scorched-earth policy, deliberately bombing settlements, markets and key facilities in the three cities of the capital and some states in Darfur and Kordofan. Thousands of innocent civilians were injured.

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