There are seven gates on the Old City of Damascus. Now an eighth one’s being built. The Eighth Gate project isn’t actually anywhere near the Old City. It’s in the millionaire-suburb of Yaafour.
We first learned about it two long years ago. And they started selling the unfinished properties earlier this year. Apparently, there is already huge demand – even though we haven’t been able to walk inside the new town. And it’s already nearly two years behind schedule. Some things never change.
I say town, because that’s what it will be. It’s not a shopping centre, it’s not a block of flats. It’s not even a large development. It will cover 300,000 square metres. Suddenly the word ‘gate’ doesn’t seem appropriate – Eighth Gate will need a whole set of its own gates.
The company goes even further: “This vibrant city will encapsulate the modern and progressive energy of any of today’s modern city centres.”
It’s also going to be the site of the Syrian Stock Exchange.
Here’s what you can expect: apartments, offices, restaurants, the largest shopping mall in the Levant, a five-star hotel, gyms, parks, a river – with waterfront cafes. And the whole place will be covered by high-speed wifi (free?). It’s a self-sufficient town. There’s no need to leave the development.
The Emirati creators say they want to put a bit of Dubai luxury into Damascus. And that’s exactly what it looks like. Rich Damascenes will no longer need to move to the Gulf, or America. They’ll have it right here.
But it’s not all for the elite. To get the licence to build this new city, Emaar had to guarantee a number of affordable (i.e. cheap) properties.
That’s the same kind of deal companies have to sign up to in London. And it has helped reduce the number of homeless people. Now that is ‘development’.
UPDATE: In the comment section Jabi adds that they started selling the apartments in 2007. Prices are a quarter of a million dollars for 100 square metres. Nearby, the French Carrefour supermarket is planning to open its first branch in Syria.