Quotes: US 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.


 






  MENA News Headlines
 Jul 24 2014 - A forgotten tragedyUN experts call for a stronger response to internal displacement in NigeriaMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) GENEVA Switzerland July 23 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Two United Nations human rights experts today called on the Government of Nigeria and the international community ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Address by Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of LabourMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) OTTAWA Canada July 24 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Check Against Delivery Good morning/afternoon. Thank you for joining us. We are here today to discuss a global ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Flydubai to start Mumbai flights in OctoberspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Bai-based flydubai on Wednesday announced the launch of flights to Mumbai bringing the total number of destinations served by the carrier in India to seven with 25 flights a ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Dubai: A vision not an illusionspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) W laws will reinforce Dubais position as a sought-after global investment and business destination Hisham Abdulla Al Shirawi tells Khaleej Times “Dubai and the UAE as a ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Real estate deals in Dubai hit Dh113 billionspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Ga projects and investor confidence behind strong transaction volumes The launch of mega projects and renewed investor confidence have boosted real estate transactions in ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Mashreq bank profit surges 40spanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Shreq bank announced on Wednesday a 40 per cent increase to Dh1.The bank said it net profit in the second quarter reached Dh585 million an increase of 45 per cent from last ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Marka to list on DFM in SeptemberspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Rka a public joint stock company with a capital of Dh500 million on Wednesday announced plan to list its shares on the Dubai Financial Market in the second week of September ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Al Maya opens supermarket in Al Reem IslandspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Maya Group has extended its reach in Abu Dhabi by opening its fourth supermarket in the countrys capital and first on Al Reem Island the company said.“The group ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Fees and commission boost FHs H1 earningsspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Nance House has posted a robust consolidated net-profit of Dh61.Net fee and commission income grew by a whopping 75 per cent year-on-year to Dh35.8 million. Similarly income ...

 Jul 24 2014 - Majid Al Futtaim revenues jump 14 in first halfspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Rong performance across the businesses has boosted Majid Al Futtaims first-half revenues by 14 per cent compared to same period last year the Dubai-based company announced on ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

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

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

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
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

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


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help