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Tuesday, October 14, 2008 

Meeting the President

Eight o'clock. Damascus. The National Orchestra was about to perform at the Opera House.

The audience were taking their seats - and then there was a growing whisper coming from the right hand side. The whisper grew to a chatter.

Down the steps walked a tall man in a grey suit, next to a blonde woman in a purple dress had just entered.

If you didn't know Syria you wouldn't know this was the President. There were no bodyguards and no glass screens. And not even a special seat. He took a place with the rest of the audience - ok, so it was the front row. But these were normal four-dollar seats - just five places in front of me.

At the end, the conductor called the President up on stage - he shook the hands of the performers and walked out - followed right behind by people trying to get his attention.

He spent half an hour talking to members of the public outside. And then left by the front door, and got in a normal car with his wife.


Nice touch on the part of the president. I only hope this attitude of humility can be adopted by all functionaries of the Syrian government.

No security at all? That seems reckless somehow. Not that I'm telling him off, I think it's great he can just mingle with people without problems.

You must enter this guy into Gunnies book, because I've never heard of a dictator can walk without security between his people unless he fooled you.
You must love your dictator?
How many years of governing you would give this dictator or it is not up to you.
Do you think you will see another dictator take his place in your life time or this is not of your concern?

I'd bet there was security, but I'm surprised it wasn't obvious.

Hello, I love your detailed account for your experience meeting the president. Very well written. I am acutally really interested in this article, and I would like your permission to use it for a new e-Magazine I am starting up that focuses on Arabs from generation X.

This article would go under history/politics, and your first person perception of the event is so well written.

Here is more info about the project if you are interested in sharing this article.


Thank you a lot! I hope you will! :)

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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