The News in 219 Cities: This week’s cities: Hama, Seeb, and Sayyan

For my latest project/experiment I am going to write down the latest news from three randomly picked cities in the Arab world. I will also include cities in Israel and Turkey.

To do this I put together a list that included the 10 most populated cities of each country (though tiny Bahrain only had 9 cities.) Then I used a random number generator to pick three cities to write about.

By doing this I hope to gain a better picture of what the Arab world looks like. In the US all we see of the Middle East is explosions but that does not mean the entire Middle East is exploding. Unfortunately because my project is based in news articles, it will be hard to completely get away from writing about explosions. In either case, I will do my best to portray a snippet from the lands where our civilization was born.


Hama, Syria

Population: 460,602 (4th most populated city in Syria)




Description from Wikipedia:

Hama (Arabic: حماةḤamāh [ħaˈmaː], Biblical Ḥamāth, “fortress”) is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria. It is located 213 kilometres (132 mi) north of Damascus and 46 kilometres (29 mi) north of Homs.

The city is renowned for its seventeen norias used for watering the gardens, which are locally claimed to date back to 1100 BC. Though historically used for purpose of irrigation, the norias exist today as an almost entirely aesthetic traditional show.

In the last decades, the city of Hama has become known as a center of the anti-Ba’ath opposition in Syria, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The city was raided by the Syrian Army, beginning with the 1964 Islamic uprising, and becoming the scene of carnage during the Islamic uprising in Syria in April 1981 and especially in 1982, when nearly 25,000 people were killed in what became known as Hama massacre. The city was once again the site of conflict between the Syrian military and opposition forces, as one of the main arenas of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and 2012.


July 28th, 2014: The Syrian War has created over three million refugees, but websites like Shaam News Network have created something to come home to. (Syria Deeply)

Before the civil war it was hard to find Syrian media that was not controlled by the state. Now untainted news is everywhere. Thanks to the Hama-based Shaam News Network, and other news websites like them, Syrians get can a more accurate picture of what is happening in their country. When the civil war is over, a free press will be key insuring a better society in Syria. In the mean time, the hard and dangerous work of “alternative” journalists gives refugees and aid works the information needed to save lives.


Seeb, Oman 

Population: 237,816 (2nd most populated city in Oman)



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Description from Wikipedia:

Seeb, As Seeb or As Sib (Arabic: السيب‎) is a coastal fishing city, located several kilometres northwest of Muscat, in northeastern Oman.

Landmarks include the Naseem Garden, The Amouage Perfumery, the Royal Stables and Equestrian Centre, Royal Guard of Oman Technical College, the Bait al Baraka palace, Seeb International Airport and Markaz al Bahja.


July 16th, 2014: Al Rafd Fund Mobile Unit Arrives in Seeb! (Oman Observer)

The Al Rafd mobile unit has arrived in Seeb! The Al Rafd Fund mobile unit is basically a truck that drives around and gives finical assistance to a few people who want to start small to medium sized businesses. Best of luck Seebians!



Sayyan, Yemen

Population: 69, 404 (9th most populated city in Yemen)

staticmap (2)

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Magwala, Yemen (close to Sayyan)

Magwala, Yemen (close to Sayyan)

Description from Wikipedia:

Sayyan is a small town in western central Yemen. It is located in the San‘a’ Governorate, to the southeast by road from Sana’a along Route 901.

Infrastructure like in many other areas of western Yemen was improved in the late 1980s and early 1990s; Swedish company Transelectric and the Yemen General Electricity Corporation ( YGEC) laid feeder and distribution lines and substations in the Sayyan vicinity, reportedly completed in late 1991. It contains a hospital, mosque and a school.

Description from

Sayyan is among Yemen’s least visited places. Travelers visiting the area usually prefer to go to other destinations.

November 8th, 2012: Drone spotted above Sayyan linked to attack close to Yemeni capital. (, The Long War JournalXinhua)

The only news I could find of Sayyan was from almost two years ago. I could find nothing from before or after. No news is good news I guess..?

On late November 7th, 2012 a drone attacked and killed the al-Qaida commander Adnan al- Qathi, and at least two other militants. al-Qathi was suspected of caring out a bomb attack on the US embassy in Sana’a (the capital of Yemen) in 2008. A drone was seen by Sayyan residents just two days before the attack. Though the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the attack was only a few miles away from Sayyan, most accounts pointed to an area closer to Sana’a.

Drone strikes in Yemen have decreased from 41 in 2012, to 26 in 2013, and 14 (so far) in 2014. (


That’s it for Hama, Seeb, and Sayyan. See you, and three more cities next week!



  1. Jill's Awesome Week · August 4, 2014

    Reblogged this on Jill's Awesome Week and commented:
    Really cool blog my friend just started– learn a little more about the Arab world by discovering 3 of its major cities every week through news stories!

  2. travellingmo · August 7, 2014

    So interesting!! I had no idea that these cities even existed but they look pretty from the pictures. Congrats Seeb on your mobile fund unit!

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