YK1AO : Syria

November 2002, and January through March 2003, my UN WFP FITTEST mission brought me to Syria. Syria. What did I know about Syria? Assad. Damascus. I knew two things of Syria, the name of the president, and the name of the capital. Somewhere along the mission lines in time, I even missed the news that Assad died, and was followed up by his son, Assad.

Well, let me tell you I learned a few things about Syria while I was there. The hospitality of the Syrian people is amazing. The level of education is high, although many youngsters travel abroad to obtain that education. The historical sites in Syria are numerous. Damascus is full of ancient history. Not expensive, definitively one should pay a visit to this country when touring the Middle East and meet and talk with the Syrians.

I wanted to meet this man, who I'd listened to over the years on my ham radio station back home. YK1AO, Omar Shabsigh, what a dynamic person ! I visited his house, and forgot to take my camera with me. Never will I forgive myself that fact.
Omar is continuously trying to get Syrians involved in ham radio. He even gives lectures at a technical university to promote ham radio to the young.

Omar brought YK9A to the world in 2001. Americans doing ham radio from Syria ? Yes, he made it happen ! What a wonderful amazing thing, ham radio. What an amazing man Omar !
In his shack, I listened to him making cw QSOs in his typical style. Back home in 2004, I finally managed to work Omar on topband, what a thrill.

The country being still at war with one of its neighbours, holds back on communications, a difficult playing field. But ham radio thrives, I visited the club station's shack, from where YK9A transmitted. No QSOs where made from Syria, but I sure appreciated meeting a lot of special people who became great friends.

The photographs below give you an idea on how it was like. Click on them to enlarge, enjoy !
e. Enjoy !

73 - Mark - ON4WW

No no, I don't want to go to Iraq yet, let me stay a while longer in Syria !
The late president Assad, and his son, the current president Assad
Omar Shabsigh, YK1AO, a remarkable and extremely dynamic person
At the home of one of my Syrian colleagues. What a hospitality, what a dinner !
The Syrian hospitality and food overwhelmed me, here at the home of another colleague
Mount Kasion, overlooking Damascus, hosts besides the comms towers also 'lover's lane', which is mostly frequented at night time
Partial panoramic view of Damascus, a capital of millions
Another view on Damascus
Going downtown Damascus, plenty of shops
Picturesque streets in downtown Damascus
Castle walls
Shopping streets
Souvenirs near the castle
Fountains can be seen all around Damascus
More fountains
Palmtrees in the centre of Damascus
Palmtrees and monuments, Damascus loves tourists
Palmtrees and mosques
Modern highways to cater for the sometimes chaotic traffic flow
A monument, forgot what for
One of the thousands of mosques in Damascus
Beautiful architecture
Visiting the shrine of prophet Ali
Inside the shrine, a big plaza. Take off your shoes before entering
Inside the mosque, a wealth of ancient history. If I remember well, the mosque was once used by Christians, in ancient times
I didn't dare calling the hotel manager to clarify, I took my chances anyway ;-

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