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On the national economical level, the major importance of transport sector is focused on securing transport and travel of goods and passengers. In this context, Transport will play the role of linking production centers with consumption ones, export and import, transit of goods, and among housing malls with each others.

Further, Transport sector would maintain relevant conditions and circumstances for the efficient link of productive and servicing national economics sectors. Moreover, it would add an additional value to the products which would subsequently increase value of Transported goods and merchandise, and would actualize, The purposes of the moving people by reaching Their destinations and maintaining their interests.

This sector is connected to other economical sectors through mutual and common relations that are characterized by inter – change effects among each other. Where any eventual development in the economical sectors should be carried out side by side or even preceded by promoting Transport sector. Transport sector is considered as the blood vessels linking Syria to other world countries, where no form of cooperation, integrity or union could be imagined without maintaining linking means by Transport. As a result, due to the important and distinctive role of Transport in the development process, it has acquired great care and interests from both leadership and state under the glorified Correctionist Movement.


If you plan to buy a car in Syria, be forewarned that taxes on cars range between 150 to 250 %. There is the option of renting but as of May 2002, only foreign passport holders are able to rent cars.

Another consideration is where you will be living as newcomers to Syria can be overwhelmed by the lack of ""rules of the road"" in major cities such as Damascus.
On the other hand, driving allows you the freedom to get out of the city on the weekends.


Syria's trains are a modern lot, made in Russia. They're cheap and punctual, but the stations are usually a fair way out of town. The main line connects Damascus, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zur, Hassake and Qamishle, with a secondary line along the coast. There are a few car rental companies in Syria, but rates are around 50% higher than in the West and petrol is expensive and hard to find. Syrians drive on the right.


Shared taxis are available to all parts of the country. Service taxis (old limousines) run on major routes and cost 50-70% more than Karnak buses. Regulations: Speed limits: 20kph (12mph) in the city; 80kph (50mph) on highways. Documentation: International Driving Permit required. Green Cards are not yet accepted in Syria. Insurance is required by law and a customs certificate is needed. These are available from touring and automobile clubs.

buses are frequent and cheap - most Syrians use the bus, as very few have their own car. Distances are short and most trips take under four hours. Bus types include the traditional coach, minibuses and Japanese vans known as microbuses. Service taxis operate on the major bus routes but are considerably more expensive than microbuses.

Services run from Damascus and Aleppo to most towns and are cheap and efficient. There are orange-and-white air-conditioned Karnak (government-operated) buses. Reservations should be made well in advance. Karnak bus routes serve their own terminals, which are usually in or near the city centres. There are also privately run bus and microbus services which started recently all over Syria.


Publicly owned bus services operate in all major towns and cities. Most buses outside the capital, however, have no signs in a European script to indicate destination or stops, which can make traveling rather difficult. Taxis are widely available. Fares should be agreed in advance and according to the meter in the cities.

Travel Time

CIty Air Road
Aleppo 1.00 5.30
Latakia 1.00 5.00
Deir ez Zor 1.00 8.00
Qamishly 1.00 8.00
Palmyra 1.25 3.00
Dara   5.00
Al Hasakah   8.00
Homs   1.30
Tartus   3.00


Microbuses are the cheapest form of transport. They do not run a scheduled service.






Social Scene

Food & Drink

There are numerous restaurants in Damascus and Aleppo serving a variety of Oriental and European dishes. National dishes are kubbeh (minced semolina and meat formed in balls and stuffed with minced meat, onion and nuts), yabrak (vine leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat), ouzi (pastry stuffed with rice and minced meat) and a variety of vegetables cooked with meat and tomato sauce, usually presented on separate plates and eaten by mixing it with cooked rice. Among these vegetables are okra, French beans and malukhiyya. Table service is the norm and a meal is paid for afterwards.

There are bars serving a wide range of alcoholic drinks. Alcohol is permitted but restrictions are imposed during Ramadan when it is illegal to drink in public from dawn to dusk, even for non-Muslims.


Souks (markets) are the best places for shopping, notably those in Aleppo. Local handicrafts in Syria are numerous and precious, including mother-of-pearl items (such as backgammon boards), olive-wood carvings, weaving and embroidery, leather goods and gold and silver jewellery.

Shopping hours: Sat-Thurs 0930-1400 and 1630-2100 (summer); Sat-Thurs 0930-1400 and 1600-2000 (winter).

Special Events

The following is a selection of the major festivals and other special events celebrated in Syria:

Apr Flower Show, Latakia. May International Flower Festival, Damascus; Desert Festival, Palmyra. Jun Syrian Theatre Festival, held in a different province each year. Jul Cotton Festival, Aleppo. Aug Friendship Festival, Latakia. Aug-Sep International Fair, Damascus. Sep Vine Festival, Swaida. Oct Festival of Folklore and Music, Bosra. Oct/Nov Film and Theatre Festival, Damascus.

Social Conventions

The Syrians take as much pride in their modern amenities as in their unique heritage and in the tradition of exquisite craftsmanship, and both should be appreciated. Visitors will enjoy the hospitality that is a deep-rooted Arab tradition and sharing the pleasures of an attractive Oriental way of life. It is customary to shake hands on meeting and on departure. A visitor will be treated with great courtesy and will frequently be offered refreshment, usually coffee. As a guest in someone’s home or, more usually, in a restaurant, visitors should respect Arab customs and traditions.

A souvenir from the visitor’s home or company is well received.

Conservative casual wear is suitable. Beachwear or shorts should not be worn away from the beach or poolside.

Smoking follows Western habits and in most cases it is obvious where not to smoke. Smoking is prohibited in public from dawn to dusk during Ramadan.


No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations, which even includes radio transmission aerials. It is wise to take a good look at what will be appearing in the background before pointing the camera.


Often expected, especially in more expensive establishments; ten per cent is generally acceptable.





Institution Accommodation Facilities

Information on accommodation and social services is available at Damascus and Aleppo Universities.

Private Rental Market

There are many apartments and rooms available in Damascus. It is common among students to rent a room in the Christian quarter of the old city. A nice room in this area costs about 5000 SP a month. Those who can afford to pay more, or have someone to share an apartment with, will find an array of possibilities. In the Bab Mousalla area a three bedroom apartment costs about 10 000 SP a month. In the central part of the city you can find nice two bedroom apartments in Shalaan starting at 15 000 SP a month. Muhajirun, on the side of Mount Qassiuon, is a popular area with students. You may be able to find two bedroom apartments with a nice view for around 13 000 SP. The more adventurous can rent cheap rooms and apartments in the suburban areas. For instance, a room near the Sayyida Zeinab mosque will cost around 2000 SP. In the Christian area of Duella you might be able to find a one bedroom apartment for about 5000 SP.

The most convenient way to find a room or an apartment is to use a real estate agency. There are agencies all over the city -just walk around the area you'd like to live in and look for a real estate office. These agencies charge a finders fee -anywhere from half- to full-month's rent. The IFEAD has a file on the second floor, usually placed on the top of the shelf with recent publications from IFEAD, containing apartments for rent.

A good real estate agency in Shalaan is the "Maktab ash-Shalaan". The owner's name is Ziad. It's very close to Hafiz Ibrahim Str. (between Abu Romaneh and Hamra streets). His phone number is 00 963 11 333 85 86. Or, if you are in the area, ask for Ziad at the giftshop named Miami.

There are a few things to consider before renting an apartment. For instance, is the water cut off at certain hours? If so, does the apartment have a water tank? What kind of heating system does the apartment have? (Damascus winters are cold and windy). Is the landlord going to be a nuisance? What is the plumbing situation (ie Western or Turkish toilets)? If there is a phone, check whether it has a "0" service. Most rental properties don't, which makes it impossible to call abroad, use Western calling cards, or even call local cell phones. Most landlords restrict apartment phones to local calls only. However, you can buy phone cards and place international calls from booths on the street. It's expensive - about $2.00 a minute to the US, for example - but rates go down between 1 and 6 am.




Emergency Contacts

Emergency Services:



Enquiries on traffic violations:

Passports and Immigration:

Medical Services:

Emergency Accident Services:

Other Medical Emergencies

Telecommunications Company


Hospital Emergency Numbers



Source: Ministry of Information




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