Syria's ancient heritage on show again: National Museum of Damascus reopens doors



Syria's National Museum of Damascus opened its rich trove of antiquities to visitors again on Sunday, seven years after war forced them to close and months after the government recaptured all rebel areas near the capital.

Only part of the museum, and its collection drawn from the civilisations that have ruled Syria over the millennia, will be reopened immediately, its deputy director Ahmad Deeb said."We will exhibit a group of artefacts from all periods from prehistory, the ancient east and the classical and Islamic eras in this section," he said.

The fate of Syria's ancient heritage has hung in the balance for much of the conflict, as fighting erupted in major sites such as the Old City of Aleppo and others, including the desert ruins of Palmyra, fell into the hands of iconoclastic jihadists.

As the insurgency began to spread in 2011, the government evacuated the museum's collection, one of the most important in the Middle East, along with those of provincial museums, hiding their artefacts far from the battlefield.

In Aleppo, where the museum lay near the front line, the huge ancient statues outside were too large to transport, and were boarded up in giant crates filled with cement against shrapnel damage.

"The masterpieces were hidden straight away," said Deeb. Army trucks carried antiquities from sites across the country to stash in safety, he said. The collection of Deir al-Zor museum, isolated by fighting, was airlifted to Damascus.

In the capital, the empty museum continued to be used by the General Directorate of Antiquities as an office, and was hit by mortar fire, but not badly damaged.

As the rebel presence around Damascus weakened in recent years, some statues were put on display to the public in the museum garden, including the Lion of Elat, a massive piece from Palmyra that was damaged by the Islamic State and later restored.

Other objects, recovered by the government after they were seized by insurgents or smuggled overseas, were put on display this month in the Damascus Opera House, a testament to the looting of heritage that has characterised much of the war.

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Read more:

British Museum's new gallery shows the influence of Islam in the Middle East and beyond

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s dynamic mission is shared at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Lebanon celebrates 2,000 years of creativity with new Nabu Museum

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Attacks on Egypt’s long rooted Copts

Egypt’s Copts belong to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, with Mark the Evangelist credited with founding their church around 300 AD. Orthodox Christians account for the overwhelming majority of Christians in Egypt, with the rest mainly made up of Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Anglicans.

The community accounts for some 10 per cent of Egypt’s 100 million people, with the largest concentrations of Christians found in Cairo, Alexandria and the provinces of Minya and Assiut south of Cairo.

Egypt’s Christians have had a somewhat turbulent history in the Muslim majority Arab nation, with the community occasionally suffering outright persecution but generally living in peace with their Muslim compatriots. But radical Muslims who have first emerged in the 1970s have whipped up anti-Christian sentiments, something that has, in turn, led to an upsurge in attacks against their places of worship, church-linked facilities as well as their businesses and homes.

More recently, ISIS has vowed to go after the Christians, claiming responsibility for a series of attacks against churches packed with worshippers starting December 2016.

The discrimination many Christians complain about and the shift towards religious conservatism by many Egyptian Muslims over the last 50 years have forced hundreds of thousands of Christians to migrate, starting new lives in growing communities in places as far afield as Australia, Canada and the United States.

Here is a look at major attacks against Egypt's Coptic Christians in recent years:

November 2: Masked gunmen riding pickup trucks opened fire on three buses carrying pilgrims to the remote desert monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor south of Cairo, killing 7 and wounding about 20. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 26, 2017: Masked militants riding in three all-terrain cars open fire on a bus carrying pilgrims on their way to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, killing 29 and wounding 22. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

April 2017: Twin attacks by suicide bombers hit churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta. At least 43 people are killed and scores of worshippers injured in the Palm Sunday attack, which narrowly missed a ceremony presided over by Pope Tawadros II, spiritual leader of Egypt Orthodox Copts, in Alexandria's St. Mark's Cathedral. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

February 2017: Hundreds of Egyptian Christians flee their homes in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, fearing attacks by ISIS. The group's North Sinai affiliate had killed at least seven Coptic Christians in the restive peninsula in less than a month.

December 2016: A bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo kills 30 people and wounds dozens during Sunday Mass in one of the deadliest attacks carried out against the religious minority in recent memory. ISIS claimed responsibility.

July 2016: Pope Tawadros II says that since 2013 there were 37 sectarian attacks on Christians in Egypt, nearly one incident a month. A Muslim mob stabs to death a 27-year-old Coptic Christian man, Fam Khalaf, in the central city of Minya over a personal feud.

May 2016: A Muslim mob ransacks and torches seven Christian homes in Minya after rumours spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman. The elderly mother of the Christian man was stripped naked and dragged through a street by the mob.

New Year's Eve 2011: A bomb explodes in a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria as worshippers leave after a midnight mass, killing more than 20 people.

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6
Power: 456hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 691Nm at 3,500rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 14.6L/100km
Price: from Dh349,545
On sale: now

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Specs

Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

GOODBYE JULIA

Director: Mohamed Kordofani

Starring: Siran Riak, Eiman Yousif, Nazar Goma

Rating: 5/5

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

The biog

Favourite books: 'Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life' by Jane D. Mathews and ‘The Moment of Lift’ by Melinda Gates

Favourite travel destination: Greece, a blend of ancient history and captivating nature. It always has given me a sense of joy, endless possibilities, positive energy and wonderful people that make you feel at home.

Favourite pastime: travelling and experiencing different cultures across the globe.

Favourite quote: “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders” - Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.

Favourite Movie: Mona Lisa Smile 

Favourite Author: Kahlil Gibran

Favourite Artist: Meryl Streep

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

Bundesliga fixtures

Saturday, May 16 (kick-offs UAE time)

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (4.30pm) 

RB Leipzig v Freiburg (4.30pm) 

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (4.30pm) 

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn  (4.30pm) 

Augsburg v Wolfsburg (4.30pm) 

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach (7.30pm)

Sunday, May 17

Cologne v Mainz (4.30pm),

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (7pm)

Monday, May 18

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen (9.30pm)

Dates for the diary

To mark Bodytree’s 10th anniversary, the coming season will be filled with celebratory activities:

  • September 21 Anyone interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor can sign up for a 250-hour course in Yoga Teacher Training with Jacquelene Sadek. It begins on September 21 and will take place over the course of six weekends.
  • October 18 to 21 International yoga instructor, Yogi Nora, will be visiting Bodytree and offering classes.
  • October 26 to November 4 International pilates instructor Courtney Miller will be on hand at the studio, offering classes.
  • November 9 Bodytree is hosting a party to celebrate turning 10, and everyone is invited. Expect a day full of free classes on the grounds of the studio.
  • December 11 Yogeswari, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher, will be visiting the studio.
  • February 2, 2018 Bodytree will host its 4th annual yoga market.
THE DEALS

Hamilton $60m x 2 = $120m

Vettel $45m x 2 = $90m

Ricciardo $35m x 2 = $70m

Verstappen $55m x 3 = $165m

Leclerc $20m x 2 = $40m

TOTAL $485m

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Australia World Cup squad

Aaron Finch (capt), Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa

Results

ATP Dubai Championships on Monday (x indicates seed):

First round
Roger Federer (SUI x2) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1, 7-6 (7/5)
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS x4) 6-4, 6-1
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) bt Milos Raonic (CAN x7) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4

Pad Man

Dir: R Balki

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte

Three-and-a-half stars

MATCH INFO

Qalandars 109-3 (10ovs)

Salt 30, Malan 24, Trego 23, Jayasuriya 2-14

Bangla Tigers (9.4ovs)

Fletcher 52, Rossouw 31

Bangla Tigers win by six wickets

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Who are the Soroptimists?

The first Soroptimists club was founded in Oakland, California in 1921. The name comes from the Latin word soror which means sister, combined with optima, meaning the best.

The organisation said its name is best interpreted as ‘the best for women’.

Since then the group has grown exponentially around the world and is officially affiliated with the United Nations. The organisation also counts Queen Mathilde of Belgium among its ranks.

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

FA Cup fifth round draw

Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester City
Reading/Cardiff City v Sheffield United
Chelsea v Shrewsbury Town/Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United/Oxford United
Leicester City v Coventry City/Birmingham City
Northampton Town/Derby County v Manchester United
Southampton/Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City
Portsmouth v Arsenal 

MATCH DETAILS

Manchester United 3

Greenwood (21), Martial (33), Rashford (49)

Partizan Belgrade 0

Name: Peter Dicce

Title: Assistant dean of students and director of athletics

Favourite sport: soccer

Favourite team: Bayern Munich

Favourite player: Franz Beckenbauer

Favourite activity in Abu Dhabi: scuba diving in the Northern Emirates 

 

England ODI squad

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

How to donate

Send “thenational” to the following numbers or call the hotline on: 0502955999
2289 – Dh10
2252 – Dh 50
6025 – Dh20
6027 – Dh 100
6026 – Dh 200

In the Restaurant: Society in Four Courses
Christoph Ribbat
Translated by Jamie Searle Romanelli
Pushkin Press

The specs: 2018 Renault Megane

Price, base / as tested Dh52,900 / Dh59,200

Engine 1.6L in-line four-cylinder

Transmission Continuously variable transmission

Power 115hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque 156Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 6.6L / 100km

New Zealand 15 British & Irish Lions 15

New Zealand 15
Tries: Laumape, J Barrett
Conversions: B Barrett
Penalties: B Barrett

British & Irish Lions 15
Penalties: Farrell (4), Daly

if you go

The flights

Fly to Rome with Etihad (www.etihad.ae) or Emirates (www.emirates.com) from Dh2,480 return including taxes. The flight takes six hours. Fly from Rome to Trapani with Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) from Dh420 return including taxes. The flight takes one hour 10 minutes.

The hotels

The author recommends the following hotels for this itinerary. In Trapani, Ai Lumi (www.ailumi.it); in Marsala, Viacolvento (www.viacolventomarsala.it); and in Marsala Del Vallo, the Meliaresort Dimore Storiche (www.meliaresort.it).

ASHES SCHEDULE

First Test
November 23-27 (The Gabba, Brisbane)
Second Test
December 2-6 (Adelaide Oval, Adelaide)
Third Test
December 14-18 (Waca Ground, Perth)
Fourth Test
December 26-30 (Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne)
Fifth Test
January 4-8, 2018 (Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney)

RESULTS

5pm: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival Purebred Arabian Cup Conditions (PA) Dh 200,000 (Turf) 1,600m
Winner: Hameem, Adrie de Vries (jockey), Abdallah Al Hammadi (trainer)
5.30pm: Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup Conditions (PA) Dh 200,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Winked, Connor Beasley, Abdallah Al Hammadi
6pm: Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan National Day Cup Listed (TB) Dh 380,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Boerhan, Ryan Curatolo, Nicholas Bachalard
6.30pm: Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan National Day Group 3 (PA) Dh 500,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: AF Alwajel, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel
7pm: Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan National Day Jewel Crown Group 1 (PA) Dh 5,000,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Messi, Pat Dobbs, Timo Keersmaekers
7.30pm: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival Handicap (PA) Dh 150,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Harrab, Ryan Curatolo, Jean de Roualle
8pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh 100,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Alareeq, Connor Beasley, Ahmed Al Mehairbi

Western Clubs Champions League:

  • Friday, Sep 8 - Abu Dhabi Harlequins v Bahrain
  • Friday, Sep 15 – Kandy v Abu Dhabi Harlequins
  • Friday, Sep 22 – Kandy v Bahrain
The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded