The Syrians take as much pride in their modern amenities as in their unique heritage and in the traditional of exquisite craftsmanship, and both should be appreciated. Visitors will enjoy the hospitality that is a deep-rooted Arab tradition and sharing the pleasure of an attractive Orient way of life. It's 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.
Media: There are four mainly daily newspapers, two published in Damascus, one in Aleppo, and one in Hama. These are all published in Arabic. The Syria Times is the English-language daily, but is strictly controlled by the government and is therefore subject to censorship.
Food & Drink: There are numerous restaurants in Damascus and Aleppo serving a variety of orient and European dishes. National dishes are Kubbeh (minced semolina and meatformed in balls and stuffed with rice and minced meat, onion and nuts), Yabrak (vine leaves 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 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. Tipping is not necessary, but 10% is acceptable for most services.
Shopping: Souks (market) are the best places, 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 jewelry. Shopping hours: 0930-1400 and 1630-2100 Saturday to Thursday (summer), 0930-1400 and 1600-2000 Saturday to Thursday (winter).
Sports: The Mediterranean resorts offer canoeing, scuba diving and other water sport. Inland, there are numerous hotel swimming pool and public baths, particularly in Aleppo and Damascus.
Special Events: The following is a selection of the major festival and other special events celebrated annually in Syria. Apr. Flower show, Lattakia. Apr. 28 - May 1 Desert Festival, Palmyra. Jul. Vine Festival, Sweida; Cotton Festival, Aleppo. Jul. 3 International Flower Exhibition, Damascus. Oct. Festival of Folklore and music, Bosra. Nov. Film and Theatre Festival, Damascus.
Photography: No attempt should be made to photograph remotely connected with the armed forces or the vicinity of defense installations, which even include radio transmission aerial. It is wise to take a good look at what will be appearing in the background of holiday snaps before pointing the camera