Foreign Policy Blogs

It's A Zoo Out There!

Yours truly has just returned from a rather exceptional concert here in Damascus. The Gorillaz played the Damascus citadel tonight, adjacent to famous Souk al-Hamediyeh, and put on a GREAT show. damascus-poster-gorillazThe band put on a memorable performance which featured soul legend Bobby Womack, two thirds of the landmark Hip Hop collective De La Soul, as well as the Syrian National Orchestra on several tracks. The touring lineup also included two members of the British punk group The Clash (guitarist Mick Jones and bassist Paul Simonon). The star studded lineup represented the first trip to the Syrian capitol by a major western recording act in recent memory.

Aside from being the social event of the summer for the foreigner clique, the concert was also well attended by the young, and well to-do Syrian in-crowd. With organizers turning away concert goers as the Brit-pop group hit the stage, the event was certainly successful in terms of attendance.

But there was more than ticket sales and Damascene society at play tonight. Reams of paper, and plenty of breath, are wasted on discussions of cross cultural dialogue and exchange. Damascus wasting more than the average. This concert actually achieved what so many only talk about. There was an air of celebration and joy amongst the crowd. Everyone was happy to be enjoying the cool breeze and heavy bass. Ticket takers turned away uniformed police officers who lacked a pass. Muhajabat (women wearing the Hijab, or veil) sat atop shoulders and reached out, trying to get their piece of the rock star. And everyone (except, of course, for the VERY well dressed family in the first row who left during the 4th song…maids in tow) had fun.

Yours truly most of all.



Walter Raubeson

Walter spent the last two years living and working in Damascus, reporting on the Syrian social, political, and cultural scene. Recently returned to the US, Walter continues to monitor Middle Eastern events with verve, and also gusto.

Having graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science- International Relations-in September 2008, Walter's MA thesis analyzed the Lebanese political system; focusing on the impact of foreign intervention within Lebanon, particularly the roles of Iran, Israel, Syria, and the US.