Omayad Square, Damascus’s inescapable central point where seven major roads converge, has become emblematic of the Syrian regime. Nearly two years ago, repairs began, aimed at reducing congestion by building an underground tunnel for cars going from Mezzeh to the Old City, freeing valuable space on the ground. The square quickly became, and remains, a massive construction site, driving Damascenes to despair, even though the tunnel has already opened.
The square was closed for several days in March, re-opening with no evidence that anything had actually improved. On the contrary, its level had risen well above the surrounding roads and buildings, making Damascenes dread the autumn and winter rains which promise to overﬂow into the imposing Assad Library, the recently-inaugurated opera house, and the distinctive television centre.