An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis
On Friday 21st July, we were delighted to have Diana Drake, author of 'My House in Damascus,' giving a talk as part of the 'Celebrating Syria' Festival 2017. The event took place at Friends’ meeting house (Main Hall), Manchester. Diana took us on a journey into the heart of Syria as it is today, illustrated with her own photos and writing. With the unique perspective of an Arabic-speaking British woman, Diana became deeply embedded in all levels of Syrian society when she bought and restored a house in a mixed Sunni/Shi’a neighborhood of the walled Old City of Damascus. Drawing on the author’s first-hand knowledge and experience of Syria’s complex religious and ethnic communities, this book illuminates the darker recesses of the country’s history, politics, and society. The highly acclaimed “My House in Damascus”, now in its third edition, blends the true story of the author’s house against a backdrop of Syrian society, philosophy, architecture and literature. It is one of the very few books to describe the human face of the Syrian crisis.
Diana graduated in Arabic from Oxford University and went to live and work in a range of Arab countries as an Arabic translator and consultant for both public and private sectors. Along the way she authored 16 acclaimed guides to the region, and is now well known as an authority on Syria, contributing to the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times and the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent.
In 2005 Diana bought a semi-derelict courtyard house in Old Damascus and spent three years restoring it with the help of Syrian craftsmen, a process which led her back into the academic world to complete an MA in Islamic Art and Architecture at SOAS, in 2009.
With her Damascus house in use as a refuge for displaced friends, her links with Syria are deep and ongoing. She has been back six times since the revolution began in March 2011 and remains actively committed to helping Syrians achieve a better future.