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The Summit of excitement

March 26th, 2008 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The Arab League Summit is the talk of the town.
This year's event is being held in Damascus. It should be the crowning glory for Syria. The city is three months into being Arab Capital of Culture. The Arab world is supposed to be looking in this direction with rose-tinted glasses for once.
Posters started appearing around town a couple of weeks ago. I have to think, if an EU summit happened in London, it would all be very missable. But here, this is definately soemthing to brag about.
'For a better future for the Arab World' read the massive signs – including some which are longer than a building, along the Fairground.
Men in black suits – who look far more scary than the police – have popped up around key buildings – Cham Palace, the Omayed Hotel, some of the buildings at Omayed Square. Inside the Cham Palace there are dozens more, all pacing around speaking into their cufflinks. Very James Bond.
And this morning, the airport closed (yes, that's right, it closed – shut down until next week – no civilian flights in or out of Damascus International Airport, and no-one is allowed to fly over Syria's capital). That was only announced a couple of days ago – unless you're a Syrianair passenger, in which case, it still hasn't been announced!. That didn't even happen during the Iraq War.
Whole chunks of the city are going to be closed off during the weekend and businesses are going to be shut.
But the craziest rumour is that there could be a curfew. No-one will be alowed into Damascus when the important people are in town.
As for the party itself, well, there are going to be a couple of empty chairs. Lebanon isn't attending at all (they haven't got a president anyway). Saudi is sending its Arab League Ambassador, and Egypt is sending a minor crony.
A better future? Or the same old nonsense.


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