Best Times To Visit

If you’re looking for lots of gay activities, try to avoid coming in December and January; the only good activities that take place during those months are the New Year’s Eve parties.

March and April are the best months to visit if you like to avoid the hot summers in Syria.

Check for Ramadan before you come, it is always a slow month.

GAy Syria

Damascus (Dimashq)

Cruising Areas

Monchieh Park; a small park behind the Four Seasons Hotel

Shaalan

Sebki Park

Marjeh Square

Bab Toma

Qassa’a Street

In front of Cham Palace Hotel

Gay Hammams In Damascus

Hammam Al-Jadeed, near Bab al-Jabieh, close to Souk Al-Hamidieh

Hammam Jaramana

Hammam Al-Khanji (Thawra Street)

(Ammouneh & Kaimarieh are closed now)

Places to go

Ali Pasha Coffee Shop (Marjeh Sq.)

Zahrat Demashq Coffee Shop (Marjeh Square)

Karnak Bar (Marjeh Sq)

Sheraton Hotel Pub

Massimo Pub, Cham Palace Hotel

In-House Coffee Shops

Almost all the restaurants/coffee shops in Bab Toma

Madinat Al-Shabab (Youth City) swimming pool

Aleppo (Halab)

Cruising Areas

Public Park Aleppo

Saadallah Square

Al-Shallalat Area

Al-Mut’haf (The Museum) Park

Gay Hammams in Aleppo:

Al-Naeem Hammam (Turkish Bath) (You could hook up there)

Ghornata “Granada” Hammam (You need to have your “date” with you)

Places to go:

Arica Cafe

Coffee shops in front of the castle

In-House Coffee Shops

(Dome Café is closed now)

Lattakia:

The beach would be a nice place to start. You could always check in Safwan Hotel, the most famous gay friendly hotel in the region.

Always remember; Parks are good to start your cruising experience in Syria, wherever you are; in any city.

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Damascus (Dimashq)

Damascus is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It’s a beautiful city, with a lot to see. Personally, I keep wonder when did the first gay sexual experience take place in Damascus, & where.

Places to HUNT:
You could almost pick up guys everywhere; you just need to have a good gaydar. Anyway, here is a list of the most popular places in Damascus:
Shaalan Street
Hamra Street
Sebki Park
Monchieh Park; a small park behind the Four Seasons Hotel
Marjeh Square
Bab Toma (Thomas’ Gate)
Qassa’a Street
In front of Cham Palace Hotel
Places to have FUN:
There are four hammams in Damascus where you could play safely, but please always be careful.
Hammam Al-Jadeed, near Bab al-Jabieh, close to Souk Al-Hamidieh
Hammam Al-Kiemarieh, in the Old City
Hammam Al-Khanji
Hammam Amouneh
Places to go:
Aroma Café
Karnak Bar (Marjeh Sq)
Sheraton Hotel Pub
Massimo Pub, Cham Palace Hotel
Almost all the restaurants/coffee shops in Bab Toma are gay friendly
Madinat Al-Shabab (Youth City) swimming pool

Aleppo (Halab)

Places to CRUISE
Public Park Aleppo
Saadallah Square
Al-Shallalat Area
Dome Cafe (Coffee Shop near the Train Station)
Al-Mut’haf (The Museum) Park
Places to HAVE FUN
Al-Naeem Hammam (Turkish Bath)
Salheen Hammam (Turkish Bath)
Ghornata “Granada” Hammam
Places to meet/to go
Dome Cafe
Arica Cafe
Coffee shops in front of the castle

Lattakia:


The beach would be a nice place to start. You could always check in Safwan Hotel, the most famous gay friendly hotel in the region.

Always remember; Parks are good to start your cruising experience in Syria, wherever you are; in any city. 30 minutes before sunset is always a good time to start cruising

Have a gay trip.

Syria

Syria

I love Syria, not because I’m Syrian, but because it’s a country anyone must love. Of course this might seem somewhat subjective or slanted; therefore I will try to give some mere facts about Syria for you to understand why I say “It MUST BE on your future travelling plans.”

Let’s start with what you are doing right now; you’re reading! Syria is known to be the home of the first known alphabetical system, at least that’s what I have learned from many different sources. It’s also the home of the oldest written musical note in history. Ugarit, near Lattakia, is where the musical note and the alphabet were discovered, with many poetic & literary inscriptions. Lattakia itself has great ruins to enjoy; Phoenician, Roman, & Byzantines. Tartus is a wonderful city on the Mediterranean; with the nicest people. In Tartus, as a whole province with its capital, Tartus, & the towns & villages, you will have a great time between the beauty of the mountains & the only Syrian island; Arwad. In Tartus, you would be able to see the diversity of the Syrian people in a very small province; Religions & sects meet in Tartus. Going back to history, Damascus is the second oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is the oldest continuously inhabited capital in the world; 16-15 BC inscriptions confirmed that Damascus was at that time the capital of a city state. There’s also Ebla, south of Aleppo, the city that had a flourishing civilization in the 3rd millennium BC. Palmyra in the Syrian Desert, Tadmur in Arabic or Tadmor in the Bible, was built according to the Bible in 1100 BC. It was a very prosperous city between the 1st century BC & the 3rd century AD because of its strategic location on the ancient trade routes between Egypt and the Persian Gulf. Bosra, in the Syrian Desert as well, is a World Heritage site. It has a great Roman amphitheatre which hosts an annual cultural festival at the end of the summer.

Those are only a few examples; writing about Syria’s importance in history will take ages & needs volumes of books. As a Syrian & as a gay man, I always have hope that Syria will have the government it deserves, a democratic government & be again a free country.

My final word in this quick introduction to Syria is: Syria has it all, the sea, the mountains, the desert, the rivers, the history, & of course ME. Wink

Syria was the set of many gay love stories in old Arabic literature. Modern Syrian writers have written great stories with explicit sexual content. Though most Syrians now feel that homosexuality & sexuality are taboos, I felt that many straight men are curious to talk about sexuality, but they are afraid how may that make them look in the eyes of religion & the rest of society.

For most Gay Arabs, Syria is considered to be a gay paradise; handsome hot guys everywhere, & many many gay men. That’s somewhat true, but we still have the weirdest closeted cases as well. In Syria we have all the “common Gay Arabs problems.” Nevertheless, it’s better than most Arab countries. Lesser police interferences are taking place now, but the danger of being exposed to society as homosexual is still very high. My personal experiences & my friends’ have allowed me to be able to say that we have the highest number of “bisexuals” & “curious men” in the region. In some cases where some gay men were exposed to some straight men, those straight men did not feel like “trashing” them out, they just preferred not to talk about it. That’s a great improvement in the straight man mentality. We just hope many of them transform to more open people.
There have been many attempts to talk about homosexuality in the Media, but as gay people we still feel it’s dangerous for us to “highlight” the gay man’s “characteristics”; people are just not ready yet. Arabs do not like sudden changes in society. Talking about homosexuals rights still seems to many Arabs a conspiracy against religions; both Christianity & Islam. Most Arabs think that their attachment to religion is what makes them stronger & unique. The suppressive regimes in the Arab World tend to grant their people the right of defending their traditional values, which is the only right they are willing to give anyway. At the end, I feel that I have to mention Lebanon’s best attempts to contribute to the Arab gay community. LEBTOUR & HELEM have been working on great issues, supplying consultation & dream events for Arabs. I have added a hyperlink to each one; you could look them up if you like. Having talked about homosexuality in the Middle East & Syria, I can now add a few blogs as a guide to gay life in Syria. One is already added about Aleppo, more about other cities are soon to come. Have a gay day.



Religion

Some people relate the attitude towards homosexuality in Arab countries to Islam, but that’s not completely true. Arabs, Muslims and Christians, consider homosexuality to be a sin. All Arabs are attached to religion; the Church and the Mosque have a key role in Arabs lives. Born as a Muslim, I feel it is very important to explain Islam’s and Sheiks’* views of homosexuality.

Some scriptures of the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, were taken out of context, added to a Hadith** not correctly reported to Prophet Muhammad, and conveyed to Muslims by ignorant Sheiks to form a general look at homosexuality as a sin that is against the nature intended by god for humans. In this Hadith, gay guys caught in act are to be killed by throwing them down from the highest building in town. Considering that most buildings in most Arab peninsula’s towns were about 5-7 meters high at that time, this Hadith seems very ridiculous. There is also “The Story of Lut” mentioned in the Holy Quran. According to the story, Lut was a prophet sent to people lived in Eastern Jordan. They were punished by destroying their village and turning it to what is known now as the Dead Sea. Those people were homosexuals, yet a full objective reading will conclude that they were punished for many reasons; homosexuality was not one of them. Muslims still believe in the Hadith & the story of Lut as they were interpreted to them.

Being raised in a strict Muslim family, I struggled with my homosexuality in my early adolescent years, but I also had access to some rare Islamic scriptures, which allowed me to have a great look to how Islam dealt with homosexuality. I had come to the conclusion that Islam considers sexuality to be an identity, something to be born with. I also discussed this conclusion with well-known moderate Sheikhs, who confirmed it to me. Nevertheless, even the most moderate ones insisted that it is not acceptable to convey this fact about homosexuality in Islam to people for so many unconvincing reasons. I will not list the stupid reasons they gave, but I must say I found it very hard to convince other gay Muslims of this fact. Unfortunately, most Gay Muslims consider themselves to be sinners, live in fear of exposing themselves as homosexuals, and are forced to get married and hide their sexuality.

Homosexuality is a taboo in most Arab societies, and even when discussed, it is summed up in two words; unhealthy sin. In most discussion we had with men of religion, Muslims and Christians, the Arabic word “shaz” was the only word to describe a homosexual. The word “shaz” could be translated to “deviant” or “abnormal.” It is a very offensive word in Arabic. On the other hand, Creative people at every domain in media, literature, and art are now trying to bring the subject to open discussion. Unfortunately, the best realized efforts still consider homosexuality to be a sin. Meanwhile, the word “gay” has entered the spoken language, mostly because of American Films and TV shows, and is used frequently by educated young people. While most people still consider homosexuals to be sinners and deviant, they think using the word “gay” is more appropriate now, and that is a huge leap for homosexuals in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan; the three countries I know well about.

* Sheik: Islamic religious leader: a senior official in an Islamic religious organization.
** Hadith: a saying or dictation by Prophet Muhammad.

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