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Damascus )the Smile of Sadness),Idilbi's masterpiece

Born in 1912, to a traditional Damascene family, Ulfat Idilbi was a Syrian novel writer. She wrote books that became best sellers in the Arabic-speaking world, such as "Dimashq ya Basmat el Huzn" ("Damascus - the Smile of Sadness", 1980), which was translated into many languages and filmed as "Basmat al Huzn".

Idilbi  educated herself by reading widely from the books in the library of her uncle, Kazem Daghestani, who was also an author. Then Ulfat began to write and publish stories about the Syrian resistance movement(during the French mandate) especially regarding the injustice of the aggressor and people who were involved in a struggle for their lives, freedom and the independence of their country (which was already exhausted by rule of Ottoman Empire).

Later she became a lecturer and wrote novels and essays on the social status of women in the Middle East, as well as on the pressure they undergo and the suffering they endure. Ulfat emphasized the theme of women often spending time in their own, non-existent world.

"Damascus, The Smile Of Sadness"  is the most famous novel by Ulfat Idilbi, telling a story about a girl who grows up in times of nationwide chaos (1920s), caused by the French occupation. She becomes more conscious of her national identity, which is hardly supported by her family, who is conservative and does not allow Sabriya to leave the house except to go to school. The story tells of the injustices and deprivations she undergoes, caused both by the French occupiers and by her family, along with the loss of her beloved and her vow never to forget him. It's been read as left by Sabriyeh (main character) in her diary, found after her death.

The film depicts an agonizing episode of Syrian women's struggle to gain emancipation and gender equality

Under many circumstances, most of aspects included are author's vision of reality, which Ulfat was a witness to, therefore should be considered as dramatized history.

She spent the last decades of her life between Damascus and Paris, where she died in 2007.


Maysa Wassouf

Syrian Opera House




Syria, the cradle of civilization, education and Alphabet, has one of the most fantastic and wonderful landmarks, "Al-Assad House for Arts"(Opera House). For the first sight of Opera House, you already remember Damascus because of the archeological arts .The style of the building combines old Damascene Eastern architecture with modern architecture style.

 In 2003, Opera House was established while the opening ceremony was in 2004; it is near to Umayyad square facing "Al-Assad Library".

 Its geographical site extends to 350 000 Square meters. It contains three prestigious halls, a big hall for artistic exhibition in addition to three drama Halls: Opera, Drama,  and  multi -uses Hall.

 The Main Hall (Opera) is a big one equipped with hi-tech .It can seat 1331 persons and also contains a small amphitheatre, two balconies and twenty cabins.

 Moreover, "Orchestra Stage" includes 110 seats for Musicians and it is equipped with horizontal and vertical lights. The lighting panel contains 400 lighting projectors plus two video monitors and one cinema screen.

 As for the Drama Hall, it has three sections with a capacity of 663 seats and seven rooms for artists as well.

 There is also a Multi-uses Hall that consists of two sections with 237 seats.

 The first section is for the spectators, while the second one is for service.

 Super stars like Fayrouz and Magadha Aruwimi performed songs at Al-Assad house for Arts.

 Other activities like Inana Group, Syrian National Symphony group, Arab Music group, Al-Hajra Qural , Mosaic group and High institute for music also held arts performances  there.


Hanan Shamout





Arabic Significant World Language

Arabic is the Semitic language spoken by Arabs. It consists of twenty eight letters and it is written from right to left. It is the religious language of Islam. Nearly 300 million people speak Arabic in twenty two different countries as the official language. It is also the language of the Holy Quran used by all Moslems, who are over one billion worldwide.

Arabic enjoys a high rank in Islamic and non- Islamic worlds. It has also a great significance as an international language in recent time. Arabic is famous for its poetry and rich literature. It is a very beautiful language I feel proud I speak Arabic.

It is an international language according to a number of facts and considerations which are known to the researcher who follows up the developments in the Arab world and Arabic at the same time.

Today, the Arab world witnesses a remarkable scientific and cultural rise as well as good industrial and agricultural development.

A number of linguistics academies in the Arab world work to promote the Arabic language and enriching it with the more scientific idioms in various sciences and arts as well as the active translation movement from different languages into Arabic.

In the past few years, Arabic imposed itself in the European, America and African countries where as it has become a persistent need to the European and American representatives of commerce and industry in the Arab states particularly petroleum ones.

U.S comes at the forefront of countries of countries where Arabic spreads in the universities, institutions and schools, so a great number of people learn Arabic particularly businessmen as to the big American interests in the Arab world.

Americans also show great care to Arabic language to an extent that Professor Babiev Macky of Washington University designed a computer program for Arabic.

All radio and TV stations in America and Europe devote an important scope to Arabic programs as well as dozens of dailies and magazines issued in Arabic language in different European and American capitals. Arab communities in America, Europe and Australia play an active role in spreading Arabic in the circles they work and teach in them.

Sh. Kh.


My Story with Writing




Today, my memory returned to the time when I held the pen for the first time. I began to draw unknown and meaningless things expressing what I felt but I did not really know what they were.

Overlapping lines that darken the white paper and many directives urging me to hold the pen in a good way characterized the beginnings of my writing. I knew how to hold the pen and write. I knew the value of what I write when I worked in the press and the people read my words. I experienced a new world and a new life when I started working in the Syria Times Newspaper. I wrote for the sake of writing, not because of studying and memorizing, knowing that people will read what I wrote and this makes me very happy.

The most beautiful days of my life were spent during my work in the newspaper, but my happiness did not last because our newspaper was, due to technical reasons, closed on June 8 2008. 

So once again, I began to write and notify my words on my pages to read them alone.

Fortunately, after a period of time, our dear daily was re-launched again. It was on October 6 2012 at the directive of the Syrian Minister of Information, Mr. Omran

al-Zou'bi. I was very happy when I received the good news. So from now on my pen will write news and articles which will be read by people all over the world.

When I knew that the newspaper will be re-launched via the web, I was very sad and I felt that my joy will not be completed. I used to read a lot of publications through the Internet during the past few years, but I consider that my relationship with the paper is stronger and more intimate

I was so sad, but when I think about it, I realized that a lot of people do not  read the "paper copy" of the newspapers, any more, they, instead take the news and all the information they want from the Internet.

I don't really know whether our feelings and emotions can be expressed deeper and more truthful across the internet than on paper. What I really know is that my love to paper and pen exceeds my love for any thing else.  It is true that the e- publishing has larger number of readers and spread wider but paper will not lose its intimacy and warmth.

Writing at the beginning was nothing but images and forms painted on rocks and walls of the caves and on large stones .Writing has evolved to be written in letters of special type such as the Cuneiform writing. When man invented papers the relationship between man and papers and ink continues for thousands of years.

From the beginning, the beautiful script is the basic means that distinguishes writers and the sanctity of writing, makes it restricted to a small number of people or priests or temples.

 At present, I feel as if time were repeating itself. In the electronic publishing we read from a hard and lifeless object is but a different kind, as writing is changed.

"You must keep pace with the civilization of electronic publishing, as they say, and that you have to have your own computer to read what the other  write". It is true that if you own the tools and technology of modern age, you can find thousands, even millions of publications now, but you will never have that kind of privacy that paper-writing can give .You have the right to own what you read and keep it in the libraries that adorn the homes of a large number of our fathers. One may say that he who owns the money was luckier to read more and to learn more. Now, during the internet age, science and knowledge have become more common and more prevalent. It is true, but the smell of paper and ink and the aesthetic of the printed characters will remain my greatest love.

Amal Farhat




Should one tell the truth...!?

 Should one tell the truth...!? Truth is sacred and any aggression on it is an act of sacrilege which must be resisted by all means and methods. We must defend it at all times and whatever circumstances may be.

It has been said that truth is bitter. It is bitter because many people hate it. They hate truth because it shows their faults. The refuse, even inside themselves, to admit the truth. They tend to hide their heads like an ostrich.

Hence, we can see that truth is sometimes harmful to the person  who tell it because he or she will bear the the consequences. It is also harmful to those people to whom it is told because it shows them what they hide.

Therefore, one who tells the truth seems in the eyes of some, guilty and an aggressor.

But truth is pure whether or not satisfactory to those who hear it. There is no doubt that telling the truth nowadays is a matter which needs strong will as well as strong personality. This is a virtue which a few people possess. He who has this virtue is a man with strong will and noble emotion.