Who are the Syrians?

Syrien ist ein Land mit einer langen Historie und vielen Traditionen. Hier ein Bild aus alten Tagen. Syrien 1923, drei Musiker mit einer syrischen Cincinnati. Foto: National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)
Syria is a very old country with a very deep and rich history. Syria 1923. Entertainers with Syria Cincinnati. Photo: National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress).

When I told my husband that I am thinking of writing “Who are the Syrians?” his first words were “Do you think anyone can answer that!”. Well! I am not planning to submit a social or a historical study along those lines!

Before 2011, few people had heard about Syria, though it is a very old country with a very deep and rich history. We used to hear “where is that?” when we answered the question “where are you from?”. Now we often hear things like, “Oh! It’s so complicated in Syria!” We were presented to the world with horrible news, miserable stories and pictures, and of course the refugees ‘crisis’. Almost no one speaks to Syrians without having all this in the background.

So I just want to give a simpler picture of those people, my people, The Syrians!

11 signs to help you identify a Syrian:


When Syrians speak to someone over the phone,

their voice automatically becomes louder, and the further the person we speak with is, the louder we become. Imagine what happens when I talk from Berlin to my grandmother in Damascus! I don’t need to use the phone, I can hear her from my window!


Syrians are absolutely crazy about their food!

It’s hard to convince a Syrian that there are other good cuisines in this world beside theirs! I produced a radio program about culture and food in Syria for two years. When I used to ask for recipes, I always got the answer that I will only find a particular recipe in a certain village or city. After long discussions and a lot of evidence that this dish exists in other places, I got this answer: “Well, I am sure they got the recipe from us! And they don’t cook it as deliciously as we do!”


You don't have high chances to find a Syrian who says "I don't know".

The Syrian is an expert on everything. No Syrian will tell you that he doesn’t know the address you are asking for, or that he doesn’t know how to fix a blocked sink! Or that he has no idea how a spaceship works!


Great solutions creators and last minute Hero.

The Syrian can find a solution for most situations. It might be weird or funny but most of the times it does the job! And for some reason, we intend to find this solution under the pressure of time even if we don’t have to.


We like to make jokes, nothing is serious enough for Syrians!

And this might be very annoying sometimes. The best jokes starts with “Homsi”. “Homsi” is the one who lives in Homs, a city in the center of Syria. The greatest jokes are the ones “Homsies” tell about themselves. My husband is a Homsi! So we have a lot of laugher in the house!


The food thing again!

When a Syrian invites you to dinner, do yourself a favor and don’t eat from the night before! Not only because the food is good or because asking you to eat more and more is our way to tell you how welcome you are but simply because you will enjoy it. Eating is a social event, with one simple dish or ten, Syrians can create an enjoyable dinner!


We believe that "Walls have ears"

I talked earlier about how loud we are, but not when it comes to politics. For more than 40 years the regime succeeded in creating a doubt that everyone we know might be an informer. Unfortunately, that has had a very negative impact on us: we don’t trust each other.


The Year 2000 doesn't mean the beginning of a new millennium for us,

It’s the year when Al-Asad the father died! After more than 15 years since his death some people still experience panic and fear when they hear his voice or see his picture.


When we hear the word "Germany" we automatically say "Ich liebe dich".

These are the only words we know in German. We heard about “Der Spiegel” but “Burda” is more popular. And, of course, we are fond of German cars.


Our favorites sport?

Is watching football games with friends!


All People who were born in the 70's and 80's have an identical memory!

In that period Syria was a very closed country. We all wore the same clothes, and had the same weird hairstyle. Until the late 90’s we only had two TV channels we used to call them Force 1 and Force 2. We had three national, lousy, propaganda-filled newspapers and a local, lousy, propaganda-filled newspaper in every province. All of them repeated how great the president and his party are, and how evil the world is. But the newspapers served well to clean the windows perfectly.

This can go on to be a very long list! Maybe my husband was right!

Dima was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1982. She studied journalism and art at the University of Damascus and went on to work as a freelance journalist for international media and online publications. She became a coordinator and producer at Radio Souriali in 2012. Dima has lived in Berlin since 2013, blogging about what it’s like to be expecting a child far away from her familiar world. She is now an expert on paperwork and profound thoughts.