Safety Syria

In general, Syria is safe for tourists. Most locals are hospitable and friendly. Although theft is not a big problem in this country, it is always sensible to take precautions. Do not wave banknotes around on the streets. It is useful to have two money belts, one containing money necessary for that particular day, and the other with all the rest of your money, which you wear under your clothes. Begging is not commonplace, although sometimes children may ask for sweets or small items like biros.

Women: In Syria, attitudes are a little more old fashioned towards women who travel alone, although you should not encounter any real problem. However, it is advisable to wear ‘discreet’ clothing. In villages, it is not appropriate to go unaccompanied (by a man) to places such as tea houses or other areas where only men go. Direct eye contact is often seen as an ‘invitation’. In general, the more self confidence you give off, the less trouble you will have.

Police: In Syria, the uniformed police are formed by members of the army, and the country is full of them. They guard public building and occasionally hold luggage checks en route or at bus stations. The civil police are dressed in plain clothes and armed. They maintain public order and safety. In the ambassadorial region in Damascus, where the president also lives, they are everywhere. The mukhabarat (secret police) is an extensive organisation and also has eyes and ears everywhere. They keep an eye on the locals, their political views and their interaction with foreigners. Avoid discussions about President Assad, as you may unwittingly cause serious problems for the locals by addressing such issues if your conversation is overheard by the secret police.

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