. I’ve met a German architect who is working on an eight-year urban renewal programme for Aleppo. The plan is to restore some of the old city and maybe thus persuade people to stay there and not move out to the towerblocks rising up on the edge of the city. Aleppo is growing at an alarming rate with some 50.000 people coming in every year and though only 10% of Syrians own cars, the demand for them is growing. The restoration work is long overdue especially in the eastern side of the city from where the desert sandstorms blow and where new arrivals have built whole complexes of illegal dwellings – on land supposedly set aside for agriculture. And the reason the government does nothing to enforce its own laws is that it can’t – or won’t – meet the demand for housing.
There is, of course, no shortage of new privately-built housing which you can see to the west of the city because, as the 62nd English Trade Consul told me, Syria has been closed off from the rest of the world for so long that the money is being spent internally – on houses and cars.
Extract from my book My Home is Your Home A Journey Round Syria published 2011