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Salamiya: A City of Queues with Fading Portraits of Assad

Residents rely on the black market because fuel supplies do not reach the town, according to Enab Baladi.
Salamiya: A City of Queues with Fading Portraits of Assad

Queues are widespread in the city of Salamiya, in the east of Hama governorate. Basic essential items have become luxuries, which customers must save money for months in advance. In this respect, Salamiya’s residents do not face circumstances significantly different from Syria’s other governorates.

Citizens interviewed by Enab Baladi said that the “culture of queues” has recently become a way of life for residents. Even supplies that can be bought without waiting in line now form part of their queuing schedule.

At a time when the city’s residents rely on falafel as a “cheap” main meal for subsistence, the price of one sandwich has risen to 3,000 Syrian pounds. Over a month, the cost has therefore risen to at least 90,000 Syrian pounds, assuming that the individual only needs one meal per day.

The cost of preparing a one-day lunch consisting of vegetables alone was about 20,000 Syrian pounds.

The exchange rate today is 5,925 pounds Syrian pounds to one US dollar, according to the Lira Today website.

Hadi, a 30-year-old resident of Salamiya, told Enab Baladi that the city has always been notorious for its inhabitants’ poverty, but it has never lost its colorfulness. However, the streets are dark these days, and local residents rarely smile.

He added that only blue and black colours remain on pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which security agencies in the city’s squares, main roads, and on the ancient wall in the town square.

Luxury taxis

The public transportation crisis in Syria has reached Salamiya, but it seems that it has had a more profound impact than in other cities. Public transportation in the city is unavailable except at specific times and in very limited numbers.

Meanwhile, only the wealthiest people can approach taxis parked in the city square.

Hadi said that the city’s location far from border towns has made fuel more expensive than others. For this reason, fuel is limited to specific people who are leaders of the auxiliary groups of Syrian regime forces.

Before the Syrian regime took control of the eastern countryside of Salamiya, the National Defense and some of the regime’s auxiliary groups used to buy fuel from the Islamic State in eastern Syria. Before that, they bought fuel from the opposition factions spread in the eastern and northern countryside of the city.

Before 2015, the village of Abu Dali, in the Salamiya area, was known as a crossing point from which fuel was imported into the city. The fuel arrived from opposition-held areas under the administration of Ahmed Darwish, a former member of the People’s Assembly and a close associate of the Syrian regime.

The price of one litre of gasoline reached 20,000 Syrian pounds in Salamiya in early December, if available, and then returned to decline to reach the price of 14,000 Syrian pounds on the black market, while the price of diesel reached 11,000 Syrian pounds per litre on the “black market.”

Residents rely on the black market because fuel supplies do not reach Salamiya’s residents — even the taxi drivers.

The cost of ordering a taxi inside the city is 7,000 Syrian pounds if the distance does not exceed three kilometres.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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