About this site
This site was created in order to be a different voice for Syria from the usual media coverage. Author, Arabist and occasional BBC broadcaster, I am a Middle East cultural expert with special focus on Syria and Eastern Turkey. Over the course of my 30 years’ experience in the region I have written 16 guide books for a variety of publishers including Bradt, Thomas Cook and the AA, covering Syria, Jordan, Oman, Tunisia, the UAE, Dubai, North Cyprus and Turkey. More recently I have become involved in writing press articles (eg The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph) along with TV and radio work (eg BBC From Our Own Correspondent 4 July 2013, 11 August 2013, 23 September 2013, 28 March 2014, 10 July 2014, 18 October 2014, 5 March 2015 and 9 August 2015, see ‘Recent Media Contributions’) to highlight the often unreported complexities of Syria. I am also increasingly asked to give interviews for radio and TV (BBC World, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, LBC, France 24 – (see Media contributions ) about developments on the ground in the Syrian crisis. Very occasionally, as in Scandal in Sebastia, I write about something urgent happening on the West Bank.
My book My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis was first published by Haus Publishing in March 2014, with an updated second edition in January 2015 and now an expanded third edition with two new extra chapters has been published in February 2016. The book encapsulates and distils my lifelong experience of the Middle East, explaining the extraordinary complexities of Syria from the inside and giving a human context to the Revolution. I regard it as my life’s work.
My purchase in 2005 of a 17th century courtyard house in the Old City of Damascus enabled me to become deeply embedded in Syrian society and culture. I have returned six times since the Revolution began in March 2011 and my links inside the country are deep and ongoing. The house is currently lived in by Syrian refugee friends displaced from their own homes by shelling in the suburbs. With Syria currently suffering its biggest ever crisis, and massive loss of life, my aim is to provide regular blogs that will help more people understand the dilemma of the Syrian people and the choices they face. They deserve great sympathy, and as much help as possible.
If you feel you can help, please donate to registered UK charity Syria Relief, which has networks on the ground inside Syria, getting food and medical aid to those who need it most. A proportion of funds from the sale of the new My House in Damascus book is going towards a special Syrian Higher Education fund, administered by the Said Foundation.
- Media’s unhelpful role in Syria (dianadarke.com)
- No appetite for war in Eastern Turkey – except with Israel (dianadarke.com)