The Syrian Civil War began in the early spring of 2011 and has been tearing the country apart since. Close to 1 million people fled the country in search of a better life as refugees in Europe. Overall almost 11 million Syrians, or almost half the population, have been displaced. But in early 2016, the situation in Damascus, Syria's capital, has improved and a lot of young people decided to stay put. Bars and pubs started to reopen and people are glad to go there to just socialize and lead a somewhat "normal life." So, let's take a look at what the nightlife is like in Damascus.
Security in Damascus improved in February, after Russia's intervention and a partial truce brought a sense of calm.
Locals started to go out and socialize a bit more.
"This is something you certainly wouldn't see two years ago, and it's picked up even more recently," 23-year-old Nicolas Rahal told Reuters. "I can now go to this pub or that nightclub. Places opened and people came."
Experiencing the city's nightlife gives Syrians a chance to live their lives instead of hide in fear.
Late-night socializers can be seen drinking beer, watching football, and smoking water pipes at popular Damascus bars. "People are tired of war and just want to live a normal life, so they go out, they socialize," Dana Daqqaq, a bartender at Pub Sharqi, told Reuters.
Many people had thought about fleeing the country, but now with the opportunity to socialize and have a somewhat normal life, they have decided to stay put. "When I started to see life I stayed here," 21-year-old Dana Ibrahim told Reuters. "I don't want to be a refugee."
But the war is still happening just miles away from the bars of Damascus' Old City.
Distant artillery fire is sometimes heard, and soldiers carrying assault rifles roam around, searching vehicles for bombs at army roadblocks and causing traffic jams. The death toll has most recently been reported at more than 470,000 people.
At times, bombings happen just miles away from the downtown scene.
Nightlife is about more than forgetting the war: It is also helping to employ people at a time when the economy is suffering.
According to Reuters, inflation has caused the Syrian pound to lose 90% of its value since 2011.
Five hundred fifty Syrian pounds — which converts to about $1 — will get one beer.
The traumatic experiences people have had are an unspoken truth, and it's not typically brought up by people socializing at bars.
Each person seen out is almost guaranteed to have a traumatic experience from the war that follows them.