No. 1 Worst City to Live In: Damascus



Each city constantly faces the challenge of creating the capacity and infrastructure that will enable the efficient operation of all its functions from energy use to transportation. The major influencing factors that significantly determine the quality of life of the average citizen are urban functions such as health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Today we look at why Damascus is the worst city to live in


Health Care



Due to civil unrest and general political instability there is no real healthcare system in place in Damascus and greater Syria. Its hospitals are in tatters; doctors and nurses are leaving the country en mass and treatable diseases have now become death sentences, the healthcare system is in crisis and has virtually completely collapsed. Residents of Syria used to have an average life expectancy of 75 and nine out of every ten medicines were provided by the country’s extensive network of public and private clinics. Medication was mostly made by the country’s own flourishing pharmaceutical industry. Currently Damascus has to deal with an influx of refugees, as it is one of the few places in Syria where hospitals are still operational. Civil war has completely ravaged the healthcare system


Culture and Environment


Saladin Mouselum Tomb. Source:

Being one the oldest cities in the world, a rich mosaic of cultural identities had populated the city. It is however mainly Muslim and Arab. The current war has however prevented cultural and religious life from continuing as normal, therefore major special occasions, such as Ramadan, Eid, weddings and other general festivities have somewhat ceased. Residents live in a constant state of fear and boredom, only having each other, TV and the Internet as reprieve. The cultural life of Damascus has essentially been suspended

Barada River

Barada River. Source:

In terms of the environmental concerns of Damascus. The Syrian government is faced with deciding what is the most effective solution to the city’s water crisis; where limited water resources continue to dwindle as an increasing population and civil unrest put major strain on the supply. There are either options to transfer water to Damascus from the coast, or from the Euphrates river which runs from Turkey, through Syria  and all the way to Iraq. There was possible investment from Switzerland and Japan that the Syrian government was attempting to secure to build the necessary pipelines, but due to war, such plans have not progressed and been implemented.



Umayyad Square. Source: wikipedia

Umayyad Square.
Source: wikipedia

The spatial planning of Damascus is based on the fact that the focal point of any Middle Eastern city is the souk, or marketplace. This is a labyrinth of alleys, stalls, and tiny shops that also include ancient mosques and shrines. Traditionally, the residential quarters of a city were divided along ethnic and religious lines. Today, this system has been largely replaced by divisions along class lines, with some wealthier neighborhoods and some poorer ones. Having been continuously inhabited since the fourth millennium BC, the city has survived natural disasters and numerous changes in power as many have wished to have control of its former well-watered oases and lucrative trade routes. Damascus is full of gems that are and important part of our world history and are under serious threat due to civil unrest. These include its collection of historic private houses and Syria’s greatest concentration of historic monuments. The Ancient City of Damascus has been largely protected from the violence that has heavily impacted neighborhoods surrounding the city. Isolated incidents, such as car bombs and firefights, have mostly taken place within the central neighborhoods in Damascus, with no known reports of damage inside the ancient walled city. In contrast, the outskirts of Damascus have been heavily impacted by clashes and many suburbs have been decimated. Residents of Damascus struggle to survive as they are plagued by water and electricity shortages, in addition to ongoing war. They have had to cope with these dire conditions for the past four years.



Damascus University. Source:

Damascus University.

Unlike some other Arab nations, women and men in Damascus are entitled to receive equal education. The war however has created an environment that is discriminatory as lines have been drawn. Where there was cohesion, there are now ethnic divides. Like the health system, the education system of Damascus has been left in tatters as there are constant threats of violence to students


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