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Syria’s traditional bathhouses are gaining popularity as a result of power outages

A barber serves a customer at a bathhouse in Damascus, Syria January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Firas Makdesi

Customers looking to unwind in their spare time used to go to Syria’s traditional bathhouses. Some families now go there out of necessity, tired of taking frigid showers at home due to regular power outages caused by a decade of conflict, which have rendered their electric heaters useless.

What they’re saying: “We don’t have much power. The water barely warms up after an hour of being connected. At home, there are ten of us. We are not given a turn. The situation is quite dire,” said Hadi, a shopkeeper relaxing at a Damascus bathhouse.

  • Restaurant owner Ahmad, drying his toddler with a towel, said, “We’ve come for a good time, to have a bath and relax, and because there’s no electricity. What options do we have?”
Men wait for their turn at a bathhouse in Damascus, Syria January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Firas Makdesi

What’s going on: Even in the capital, which is better served than many other parts of Syria, blackouts can last up to 20 hours a day.

  • People were flocking to a public bath in a Damascus market not simply because of power outages, but also because of water shortages, according to Bassam Kubab, the owner of a public bath in a Damascus market.
  • Few people can afford private diesel generators or the solar panels that the government is encouraging households to install.
  • According to government data, up to 60 per cent of Syria’s power infrastructure has been damaged since 2011, when anti-Assad protests erupted and quickly devolved into all-out war.
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