Syria is a country in the Middle East. It is officially called the Syrian Arab Republic, and Islam is the dominant religion of the country. But there are many Christians as well.
There has been a prolonged civil unrest (which has lately become a full blow civil war) in the country for quite some time now, especially at the country’s border with Turkey. In addition, the IS is a big threat at the north-eastern border with Iraq. What that means is this: if you plan to visit Syria, by all means, do. But inquire of your tour planner which areas are most volatile and try to avoid such areas.
There are many weird facts about this country. For example, should you avoid direct eye contact with them, how do they take it? Talking about certain people and certain things may also cause alarm in Syria. Who and what are those? Which cities are religiously conservative and which areas are more tolerant? You will learn about all these and more in the following 10 weird facts about Syria. Enjoy!
President: Bashar al Assad
Prime Minister: Imad Khamis
Government: Unitary Dominant Party Semi-Presidential Republic
Population: 17,064,854 (2014 estimate)
Currency: Syrian Pound
Weird Facts About Syria
1. RESERVE YOUR COMMENTS
If you happen to visit Syria, it is unwise to make any remarks about the president, the government, and the Ba’ath Party. In fact, such comments may cause alarm. The weird fact is that Syria is not a democracy and critical comments regarding the Syrian government must be avoided.
2. RELAXED DRESS CODE
Male or female, visitors can generally wear whatever attire they would normally wear in their home countries. However, when visiting religious sites, you must dress in such a way as no part of your body is unnecessarily exposed.
3. DON’T BE RUDE
Direct eye contact is the norm, and the opposite must be avoided. Indirect eye contact can be viewed as rude or even condescending…that you are superior. Isn’t that weird? But when talking with an elderly person, indirect eye contact could be forgiven, and seen as being polite/humble.
4. NO PHYSICAL CONTACT
When greeting, avoid physical contact with people of the opposite sex to who you are not related. It could cause offence to very religious people. Let a woman extend her hand for a shake before you oblige her; never initiate a handshake with a woman. If she does not extend her hand, then politely place your hand on your chest and nod slightly. Well, there is nothing weird about that, right?
5. DON’T TOUCH; DON’T BE TOUCHED
If you look very like a religious man, be careful about touching a woman in public. It is a big taboo to do so in Syria. In the same vein, you must ensure you do not let women touch you in public. The religiously observant people will take offense. Wow! Talk about weird!
6. SECULAR VS CONSERVATIVE
If you plan to visit Syria soon, then it is better to take this to heart. The predominantly conservative and religiously intolerant cities are Aleppo and Hamas. But coastal cities like Lattakia and Tartous are predominantly secular and religiously tolerant.
7. BE MODERATE IN VIEWS
Try as much as possible to maintain a moderate view when discussing such social issues as women’s rights, dress codes, sexuality, politics, and especially religion. This is because the two groups of Syrians (conservative and secular) are really divided on these issues.
8. TOLERANT OF FOREIGNERS
Whether secular or conservative, Syrians are surprisingly very tolerant of foreign women. Therefore, as a female visitor, you have nothing to fear concerning what any group feels about the rights of women or proper dress for women is. However, your dressing must decent.
9. THE TOTAL “DON’TS”
Here are a couple of things you must be sure to avoid when in Syria:
- Pointing the toes, heel, or any part of the foot at a person
- Showing the soles of you feet
- Using your foot to move anything at all
You have to observe these “don’ts” because the food is viewed as the lowliest part of the body.
10. NO PDA AT ALL
It totally seen as a taboo to display affection in public; it does not matter if you are married. It is also totally a taboo to display any form of nudity at all. To this end, weird as it may sound, it would be unpalatable to be seen with any x-rated material.