Syria Gaining in Popularity as Destination for Arabic Studies

May 10, 2005

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On May 10, 2005 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on his home city and the subsequent warsin Afghanistan and Iraq changed Jason Gluck's life. In January he left his lucrative job as a corporate lawyer in Washington, D.C., and traveled to Damascus in Syria to learn Arabic. Says Mr. Gluck, '9/11 got me thinking about Middle East issues and made them immediate and personal. I want to contribute to that in any way I can by getting involved and working in the field.' Gluck is among a burgeoning group of a few hundred Western students living and studying in Damascus, the Syrian capital. There are currently as many as 50 Americans in Damascus, including a handful on government-sponsored Fulbright scholarships. In many ways, Syria is an unlikely destination for students from the United States. The US has imposed sanctions on the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism and failing to stop militants entering Iraq. Yet at the same time, Syria is fast becoming the 'Mecca of learning Arabic,' says Joshua Landis, professor of international studies at the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Landis has been living in and visiting Syria for 20 years."