What I normally 'hate' about these articles is the fact that the writers expect readers to have negative stereotypes. Not only your unfavorable misconceptions warranted in this case, but you are indeed entitled for them.
Is it too much to expect writers and intellectuals to acknowledge the timeless fact that "political restrictions" and "traditional way of life" never stifle creative spirit in human beings-- no matter the place, time or ideology?
do I really need to be surprised that art scene in Damascus is at par with its counterpart in Cairo?
To be honest, for me, anything less would have been the surprise.
I'm maybe sounding arrogant. I do not wish to. We, ordinary Syrians, recognize the long way our country have to go to gratify our moderately sized egos. It's one thing most of my blogging friends would agree upon. This requisite push-- the charging ahead that we need, may come sooner or later. But in the mean time, please go to Damascus with an open mind. You never know, you may actually like it!
Enough of that, here's a little excerpt from the article:
You hang out with Mostafa Ali, the sculptor with the many projects, and he’ll tell you of several things to do that day. You hang out with Hazem the translator and he takes you to any of a number of arts cafes, where everyone knows him by name.