The news that Damascus’ iconic Nobel bookstore was shutting its doors has shocked the residents of the Syrian capital as the store has been a staple since the 1970s.
The closure is just another in a long series of other bookstores and publishing houses, including Dar Al-Yaqatha, that have shut their doors after years of conflict in Syria.
The decision to close Nobel was taken for “personal reasons,” according to a statement released by one of the store’s owners, Edmond Nazr. He denied “rumors claiming it would be turned into a restaurant.”
Sources close to the owners told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the matter is tied to one of the two brothers’ immigration to Canada, as managing it remotely is impossible in light of the difficult conditions the country is undergoing. Sales no longer cover part of the cost of operating the store.”
Syrians have been leaving the country in droves amid the economic crisis that followed ten years of conflict, leading to the closure of several businesses. Still, the closure of a bookstore seen as a cultural hub by generations of Syrians cast a heavy shadow over the city and its residents.
Commenting on the matter, journalist and writer Rawad Al-Ibrahim said: “Yes, Damascus changes by the day; it goes deeper into a labyrinth of absurdity that is stripping it of its identity and some of its familiarity... Our alienation from our city will only grow.”
More than 400 publishing houses used to operate in Damascus, but many have shut their doors in recent years. They include Dar Al-Yaqatha, which closed down in 2014 and was turned into an electronics shop.