The Suggestion Box of Doomed Ideas: Parking in Damascus

Parking in SyriaIn what might become a regular feature of the blog, I start today with a suggestion that truly can only be described as doomed. Not because it’s a bad idea, mind you, I don’t think it is, and I’ve had some support. Simply put, it is doomed because no one will ever, ever take the initiative to put it into action, for a variety of reasons I’m sure you’ll be able to surmise yourselves, once I tell you what it is.

Some background: No one can be unaware of the parking dilemma in Syria. With the lowering of taxes and tariffs on imported cars, as well as the banking sector offering car loans to finance car purchases, the market and streets both flooded with automotive vehicles. Despite the high price of gas, everyone and their cousin got one, two, three cars in appreciation for the prices dropping so dramatically.

The one problem no one seemed to have anticipated was the fact that all these cars would need to go somewhere when no one was driving them. Since underground parking garages were outlawed until relatively recently as they posed a security risk, only a percentage of buildings offer their tenants indoor parking, leaving the streets the only available parking spaces.

As the previously famed wide streets of the new areas in Damascus got tighter and tighter due to all the parked cars, it was clear that regulation was in order. The government stepped up, making certain areas into paid parking only areas, and instructing police officers to ticket people who parked their cars on the sidewalks in some areas, and who even stopped their cars while they were still in it in others. This was all well and good, except for one extreme flaw: The government has offered us no alternative.

A definite air of outrage is in the city: if the sidewalks are off limits, streets are only going to get tighter, since we will all have to parallel park on the street itself. This may look more civilized (definitely so: I used to be mortified when I was in Canada and I would see newly arrived immigrants from the developing world try to park right on the green sod side walks of certain suburbs), but it is less space efficient, and does not take into account that now people need to park further and further away just to park at all.

As for ticketing people simply stopping in certain areas, the police have taken this to extremes, I believe. I have had to apologize to friends who dropped me off on the few occasions I go to the Forward distribution offices in Marjeh Square, as simply stopping to let me get out of the vehicle is all the provocation certain police officers need to swagger over and start registering the vehicle’s information.

So, this is my doomed suggestion, which I came up with while sitting in Costa Abu Rumaneh one day. There are certain government owned buildings that either serve no purpose, or are redundant within the same area. To me, I feel that since the Dar as-Salam and Adelah Bayham girl’s highschools are so close to the Sati’ al-Hassari school, that Sati’ can effectively be vacated and transformed into multi-level parking for the entire area. The government would make money off the project, selling hourly, daily, and monthly subscriptions. Resident’s of the area would finally have a place to put their car overnight, and since Abu Rumaneh is a bit of a restaurant district, people looking for a place to park their car will suddenly not have to walk millions and millions of miles to find a spot (I exaggerate only slightly: It really has become more efficient to simply walk or take a taxi to these restaurants).

The few objections I have been able to come up with for this scheme are: schools are already overcrowded, and the government may not have the funding for these kinds of projects. For the first, I only suggested Sati’ in this one case because it seems redundant in the area. It can be any old government building that is not being used to capacity or full efficiency. I also think that, if a lot of schools get torn down for this purpose, public schooling could be part of the decentralization happening in Damascus anyway. Perhaps the money gained from these parking garages could supplement the building of schools away from the downtown area, and children could be bussed there. The new building projects could be designed as schools to begin with, rather than converted residential buildings as they are now, and those about to complain that the bussing is inefficient probably don’t realize, or conveniently forget, that the students are already being bussed in to these schools. They’re already riding the bus, let them ride it away from the center of town.

As for the second, since the government already owns the buildings, and since they are already making money off the other Syria Park projects already in effect, I don’t see how that’s a valid argument. For the sake of not dismissing it completely, though, here is my solution: Bring in the private sector. The government can license these private companies for the projects, therefore maintaining control, and it could be a new avenue for investment for private businessmen, one that would serve an already established need.

Well that is it for the first installment of the Suggestion Box of Doomed Ideas. Let us know what you think of this one, and perhaps email your other doomed suggestions to the blog, and we’ll write up another installment.

9 Responses

  1. HAAHAHAHAHA parking in damascus. just the title has sent me laughing off my rocker. o GOD.. man o man. there is like nooooo parking there like none. none at all and those that park haven’t a clue how. like i honestly wonder how we get our drivers licenses..i do…really..i mean we r good drivers all in all but..iono i suppose its not my place to say. nice post.

  2. it maybe not as doomed as you think , I wrote about it in my blog 🙂

  3. […] school parking! By yaser  If you go to the FW Magazine blog , you will find a post carrying a suggestion about how to solve the problem of the lack in parking […]

  4. FW: Magazine is a reflection of contemporary life in Syria and has a lot to offer in terms of high journalistic standards and content. I love FW magazine. Truly, it is the voice of Syria.
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  5. Hey, thanks for your response!

    Some of your suggestions are cool, but one of the reasons I thought of a whole building, especially in the Abu Rumaneh suggestion, is that in certain areas lots of the residents are competing for minimal spaces on the streets, as more and more businesses open up in these densely populated areas. Your suggestions is excellent, but I would like to add that residents should be able to pay special and reduced monthly and yearly rates that allow them priority parking around their houses, since they shouldn’t have to walk millions of miles to their house because some wise guy snuck into their space that’s right across from a popular restaurant.

    In the interest of fairness, we can even have it that only one car per residence would be allowed this special rate, with each extra car getting a higher rate to pay, reducing the number of cars on the streets in the first place.

    As for the urban planning comment, I don’t disagree, but I think we have to consider that it’s not even the current urban planners at fault, but the people who laid the modern foundation of the city in the 1950s and 1960s, who couldn’t possibly imagine that the city would be as populated or as car infested as it has become. Since the number of cars has been increasing exponentially year after year, current urban planners have to play of catch up to retroactively fix the mistake of not allowing sufficient parking from previous administrations. I’m not qualified to say that I think the current batch of urban planners are doing all that great a job, since I don’t know what they’re up to, but we should allow that it’s not a mistake that they committed, but one they have to rectify.

  6. my company has submitted a parking solution for the chronic parking problems in all of the major cities in Syria 6 months ago and I still did not hear back from the city or the mayor of Damascus. you can check my website and see for your self. Thank you

  7. In all old cities such as Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo, Beirut and so many other cities, a chronic problem in traffic and parking exists due to the fact that these cities were not designed to accommodate for the ever growing number of cars and people inhabiting these cities today.

    For example, Damascus in the 1950’s had only 150,000 inhabitants who drove less than 1000 cars, while today in 2009 Damascus has more than 5 million people and approximately 1.8 million cars, and the number is growing by 300 new registered cars every month.

    This explosion in the number of cars on the streets of Damascus has created a major traffic and parking problem. And since most of the streets especially in the downtown area of Damascus were originally designed to accommodate carriages and other light transportation methods, today they are faced with having to accommodate trucks and cars therefore, narrow streets and condensed buildings with out the original planning for car parking has made car parking in the streets of Damascus an impossible task and since there is no way to tear down existing buildings in order to widen the streets and build car parking structures the Middle East Parking Solutions comes in as a savior in accommodating the massive parking in very small areas.

    The concept for the Middle East Parking Solution was first introduced with great success in condensed mega cities like Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, New York and London. And now we are trying to bring this technology to the Middle East. A technology that allows us to park 25 cars on a space that would only fit one car by building parking tower structures made of steel and employing the quietest and safest industrial elevator technology. A patented technology from Japan and China, exclusively available through Shanghai Mech-President Co., Ltd., which has more than 14 years experience in the construction of these towers and has more than 14000 towers to their credit worldwide.

    Another great opportunity presenting itself in these towers is having them built exclusively for restaurants where parking is scarce, or for car dealers or car rental agencies so they can accommodate more inventory on a very small piece of real estate.

    If you want to see how these towers operate or if you would like to learn more about this technology, please visit my website at and you may enter username:guest, password:azhak when prompted to do so on the specifications and designs page for these towers. And I kindly ask all of you to spread and share this website with all of your friends and colleagues in order to bring awareness for the people of Damascus and other Syrian cities about this technology and its availability. And because I am originally from Damascus I would love to start building these towers in my home town before I take it to the neighboring countries.

    Azhak Hussam
    President & CEO
    Middle East Parking Solutions
    Los Angeles, CA

  8. A correction to the above website. The website to the Middle East Parking Towers is :

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