Bulldozers scoop slow way to recovery in Syria’s Yarmuk

Bulldozers scoop slow way to recovery in Syria’s Yarmuk
A woman stands in the rubble as Syrian regime began to clean the wreckage at the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital Damascus on October 09, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018

Bulldozers scoop slow way to recovery in Syria’s Yarmuk

Bulldozers scoop slow way to recovery in Syria’s Yarmuk

YARMUK: Not far from where he used to live, Palestinian engineer Mahmud Khaled watched as bulldozers rumbled back and forth scooping up smashed concrete from the devastated streets of Syria’s Yarmuk.
Once home to 160,000 Palestinian refugees, the camp in the Damascus suburbs has been emptied of its inhabitants and pounded to rubble in Syria’s seven-year war.
But five months after regime forces expelled the last jihadists in the area, soldiers now stand guard at the camp’s entrance, wearing face masks to protect themselves against the dust billowing up into the air.
On a narrow street inside the camp where he grew up, Khaled has returned to help oversee bulldozers and diggers engaged in joint Palestinian-Syrian clean-up operations.
“When we first entered, we were horrified by what we saw,” said the 56-year-old engineer, wearing a light grey and white checkered shirt.
“But after we started the clean-up, it all started to look up,” Khaled said.
Off Yarmuk’s main artery, recently cleared side streets are flanked by buildings ravaged by years of fighting.
Some have been reduced to mountains of grey rubble and mangled rebar. In others, entire floors dangle dangerously downwards, their steel rods jutting out.
“We have shifted 50,000 cubic meters of rubble and reopened all the main roads,” Khaled said.
But “it will be a while before families can come back,” he added.
As Khaled surveyed the neighborhood, a yellow bulldozer spilled rubble into a large red truck behind him.
Tens of thousands have fled Yarmuk since Syria’s conflict started in 2011 and government forces imposed a crippling siege on the then rebel-held camp a year later.
Since the latest round of fighting to expel the Daesh group ended in May, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said no residents have been allowed to return.
Walking through the camp, Khaled pointed out his former home and the office where he used to work. The first had been damaged in fighting, while the second was completely destroyed.

Reduced to Rubble

With about a fifth of Yarmuk reduced to rubble in the war, according to an initial estimate, Khaled said there is still much work to be done.
And although he estimates 40 percent of the buildings could be lived in, another 40 percent need major work before their residents can return.
When he visited the camp in May, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness described it as lying “in ruins.”
Basic services such as water and electricity were so severely damaged, he said, that it was hard to imagine people returning any time soon.
Funded by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Syrian government, the clearing operation has been ongoing for 20 days and is expected to take another month to complete.
But there are no clear plans yet for the reconstruction of the neighborhood or its ravaged infrastructure.
PLO official Anwar Abdel Hadi told AFP he hoped reconstruction would start “as soon as possible so that our people can return to the camp.”
“But the rebuilding is still awaiting a government decision,” he said.
Back in Yarmuk, Ibrahim Am Ali walked between the bulldozers, oblivious to the dust permeating his clothes.
“I was desperate when I saw how destroyed the building was where my brothers and I had gathered over the past years,” said the 74-year-old, also part of the team overseeing the clean-up work.
Now “we have started rebuilding the camp,” the Syrian-Palestinian said, wearing a light purple shirt.
“Perhaps I will never see it completely rebuilt, but it’s enough for me to have taken part in the very beginning.”


Amazon Prime launches in Saudi Arabia, bringing the best in shopping & entertainment

Amazon has announced the launch of Amazon Prime in Saudi Arabia, which has more than 150 million paid members globally. (Supplied)
Amazon has announced the launch of Amazon Prime in Saudi Arabia, which has more than 150 million paid members globally. (Supplied)
Updated 10 min 12 sec ago

Amazon Prime launches in Saudi Arabia, bringing the best in shopping & entertainment

Amazon has announced the launch of Amazon Prime in Saudi Arabia, which has more than 150 million paid members globally. (Supplied)
  • Prime members in Saudi Arabia will enjoy a wide selection of benefits

RIYADH: Amazon has announced the launch of Amazon Prime in Saudi Arabia, which has more than 150 million paid members globally. Prime is a membership program that provides a combination of shopping and entertainment benefits from Amazon.

Prime members in Saudi Arabia will enjoy a wide selection of benefits including free and fast local delivery as quickly as one-day delivery in all key metropolitan areas and as quickly as two-day delivery in other areas.

Members can also enjoy free international delivery on products delivered from Amazon US and UAE and also access popular and award-winning entertainment, with Arabic subtitles and dubbing options available on Prime Video. In addition, they can access free in-game content for popular games and a growing library of free games from Prime Gaming.

All of these benefits, and more such as exclusive access to special shopping deals and events including Prime Day, are available as part of the Prime membership program for SR16 ($4.2) per month, while customers can also save by purchasing a SR140 annual membership. Everyone can try Prime and enjoy all of the benefits by signing up for a free 30-day trial at www.amazon.sa/prime

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of Amazon Prime in Saudi Arabia, providing customers with the best of shopping and entertainment,” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

“Customers in Saudi Arabia can now enjoy all the benefits included in this program, starting with free and faster delivery times. With Amazon Prime, customers in all key areas across the Kingdom can get their deliveries within one day of placing a local order. Prime members shopping on amazon.sa can also enjoy getting free deliveries on over 7 million eligible items shipped from Amazon US and UAE, within days. In addition to shopping benefits, Prime delivers even more value to Saudi customers with access to our streaming service, Prime Video, offering entertainment for everyone with popular movies and TV shows including award-winning Amazon Originals, available with subtitles and dubbing in Arabic.” 

The Amazon Prime membership programs includes all of the following benefits for customers in Saudi Arabia: 

Free and fast local delivery

Amazon Prime members across Saudi Arabia will get free and fast delivery on everything they want and need across local eligible Prime items in a wide range of categories from daily essentials to electronics, apparel, home and kitchen, and much more. Popular top brands eligible for free and fast local delivery with Prime include Philips, Microsoft, Black+Decker, Lego, Guess, Nivea, L’Oréal, Tide, Babyjoy, Dettol, Nescafe and Pampers. Free and fast local delivery options for Amazon Prime in Saudi Arabia include:

• Free one-day delivery to all key metropolitan areas, which include Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Taif and Alkhobar. 

• Free two-day delivery for customers across other cities in Saudi Arabia including Jubail, Buraidah, Khamis Mushayt, Abha, Hail, Al-Ahsa, Hofuf, Jazan and Al-Kharj.

• Free delivery in 4 to 6 days to all other areas in the Kingdom.

• 50 percent discount on same-day delivery on orders made until 12 p.m. for customers in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Free international delivery on Amazon Global store products available on Amazon.sa

Prime members are also eligible for free delivery on over 7 million international items available directly on Amazon.sa, which are shipped from Amazon US and Amazon UAE, as part of the Amazon Global Store. Free international delivery options for Amazon Prime in Saudi Arabia include:

• Free delivery in 2 business days for Prime-eligible orders over SR200 shipped from Amazon UAE.

• Free delivery in 7 business days for Prime-eligible orders over SR200 shipped from Amazon US. 

Exclusive shopping deals

Prime members will have exclusive access to special shopping deals and events including Prime Day, early access to seasonal sales, and also enjoy discounts on millions of local and international brands every single day throughout the year.

Prime Video 

Amazon Prime members in Saudi Arabia will enjoy access to global entertainment featuring thousands of popular movies and TV shows, available with subtitles and dubbing in Arabic. Members can enjoy watching award-winning Amazon Originals like The Grand Tour, The Boys, The Wilds, The Expanse, and many more. Prime Video offers members the option to stream or to download selected titles, across multiple devices.

Prime Gaming

Prime members on Amazon.sa can enjoy in-game content like skins and currency for popular games, an ever-growing collection of games they can claim and keep forever, and a free Twitch.tv subscription, all included with the Prime bundle. Content for some of the world’s biggest games like League of Legends and Legends of Runeterra, are available now for Saudi gamers to enjoy.

Jamil Ghani, vice president, Amazon Prime, said: “Today, Amazon customers in Saudi Arabia can join more than 150 million paid members worldwide to enjoy the best of shopping and entertainment. With free and fast local delivery, free international delivery, exclusive deals, access to Prime Video, and more benefits all included as part of the Prime membership bundle, we know there’s something in there for everyone. We look forward to sharing the Prime experience with members in Saudi, which is designed to make their lives more convenient, easier, and a little more fun every day.”

To sign up for a free 30-day trial and learn more, customers in Saudi Arabia can visit www.amazon.sa/prime.

Prime members can shop on Amazon.sa in Arabic and English using the Amazon shopping app or by visiting the website directly. Both the app and the website offer a rich Arabic browsing experience, accurate search results, trusted product reviews, personalized recommendations and simple order management, all backed by Arabic language customer support.