Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Bikes big hit in checkpoint-strewn Syria capital  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 04/12/2013
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Damascus bike shop owner Ali Jumaa is a happy man despite the civil war raging across Syria: with checkpoint-weary locals in the capital increasingly swapping their cars for bicycles, business has never been better.

"Bike sales are exploding," he said with a big smile.

Young Damascenes especially have turned to bikes en masse to avoid the endless traffic jams caused by hundreds of army checkpoints.

Two and a half years into Syria's brutal war, the economy has taken a beating, with inflation soaring at 68 percent and scores of businessmen leaving the country.

While the conflict has caused heavy losses for most businesses in Damascus, Jumaa, a trader in his 40s, is among the lucky ones.

It's hard to miss his store, which sells bicycles of all types and colours as well as carrying out repairs.

"We have regular clients," said Jumaa, while repairing a bicycle in front of his shop on Khaled bin Walid Street.

"Young women, including university professors, use bicycles to get around," he said.

Syria is a conservative Muslim country and women on bicycles used to be a rare sight.

But for months now, residents say driving in Damascus has turned into a nightmare because of the multitude of army checkpoints which have popped up across the city, with troops inspecting every passing car.

More than half the capital's streets have been shut down, leading to traffic jams which can paralyse the capital's roads for hours on end.

The aim of the checkpoints is to protect the capital from bomb attacks and to stop weapons and explosive-laden cars from slipping in.

The drastic security measures and the congestion they cause have encouraged people to use bicycles, whereas just a few months ago only delivery men and newspaper distributors could be seen using them.

Mohammad Sabbagh, an engineering student, is thrilled at having taken to two wheels.

"I get to university in 20 minutes, while it used to take me one or two hours (by bus), depending on the traffic," said Sabbagh, parking his bike.

"I can do whatever I want with my time now, as I don't have to wait for the bus any more," he smiled.

Manar Masri, also a student, said he took up cycling after he stumbled on a Facebook page named "We need a bike."

"It's wonderful that all these people, especially young girls, want to cycle," he said.

Even some religious figures have joined in.

Mohammed Ali Malla, a cleric at Leila Basha mosque, said on the group's Facebook page: "To navigate the streets of Damascus, our only option is bicycles."

Another social media user wrote: "When I'm stuck at a checkpoint and I see 32 bicycles in front of me, I think to myself, I really need a bike.'"

Breaking taboos

Some have grown so tired of the traffic that they make jokes about it. "Life is too short to spend on a bus," wrote another Facebook user.

In Damascus, an average bicycle costs about 400 Syrian pounds (30), with most of them imported from China.

Some residents also see bicycles as a way of saving money on fuel, which has grown scarce as fighting has cut off supply routes across Syria.

Fadia is upset so much of her salary goes on petrol.

Buying a bicycle "would be the ideal solution," she said, as the price of fuel has nearly doubled in two years.

The Facebook campaign encourages women like Fadia to abandon their cars.

"Women feel embarrassed to ride a bike, but we need to break all those taboos... even if that seems unusual in our conservative society," one post reads.

But not everyone supports the idea.

A street seller grumbled as he watched a young woman riding through the Shaalan commercial district. "Now we've seen it all!" he called out.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 May 7 2015 - 38 Million People Internally Displaced due to ConflictsQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) By the end of 2014, a record-breaking 38 million people had been forced to flee their homes within their own country because of conflict or violence, prompting the United Nations ...

 May 7 2015 - Dubai's Emirates Group records USD1.5b annual profitMENAFN
(MENAFN) Dubai's Emirates Group posted annual profits of about USD1.5 billion, marking an unprecedented annual increase by 34 percent, the first in the Group's history, Arabian Business reported.The ...

 May 7 2015 - Kuwait, Boeing to sign USD3b jets dealMENAFN
(MENAFN) The government of Kuwait is set to sign a deal worth USD3 billion with United States' Boeing in order to purchase a number of 28 jets model F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Arabian Business ...

 May 7 2015 - Qatar Airways to post declining profit in 2014-15MENAFN
(MENAFN) Qatar Airways is set to record less-than-expected results due to the holds of delivering planes for the state-owned flag carrier of Qatar, Chief Executive said, Gulf News reported.The ...

 May 7 2015 - Yemeni President receives US Secretary of StateSaudi Press Agency
(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of the Republic of Yemen received at his residence in Riyadh today United States Secretary of State John Kerry.During the meeting, they ...

 May 7 2015 - Tunisia calls for bolstering cooperation with TurkeyThe Journal Of Turkish Weekly
(MENAFN - The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Tunisian Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche on Wednesday underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation between his country and Turkey, especially in ...

 May 7 2015 - UAE hosts the 1st Shell Technology Leadership Event in regionEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) The first Shell Technology Leadership Event kicked off in the UAE this morning, marking the brand's first technology event in the Middle East, Central Asia and ...

 May 7 2015 - Austria- OPEC daily basket price for Wednesday, 6 May, 2015Emirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) The price of OPEC's basket of twelve crudes stood at US$64.96 dollars a barrel on Wednesday, compared with $63.62 the previous day, according to OPEC Secretariat ...

 May 7 2015 - Egypt, China trade balance hits USD11.6b in 2014MENAFN
(MENAFN) The trade balance between Egypt and China reached a total of USD11.6 billion in 2014, according to the Republic of China ambassador to the African country, Daily News Egypt reported.The ...

 May 7 2015 - UAE- Al Mansouri discusses economic ties with RomaniaEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, has discussed with the Romanian Minister of Economy, Trade and Tourism, Mihai Tudose, ways to develop ...

more...


 






Google

Internatinal Property Show

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help