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Syrian tourism is repackaging Aleppo with help from the GoT soundtrack

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

While US Presidential candidate Gary Johnson may not know it, Aleppo, Syria's most populous city, is a living nightmare. Under heavy bombardment from Syrian forces and their allies, the once magnificent city has now largely been reduced to rubble, and its residents, cannon fodder.

Now, as the world wakes up to the horrors unfolding in the city, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has unveiled a new tourism video. And while the long scenic shots of Syria, a far cry from the war-torn ground reality of the country, may be enough for a completely clueless moron to consider the country a tourist site, Assad has used a secret weapon.

No. Not chemical weapons, those aren't really very secret anymore, are they? Instead, Assad's secret weapon this time is the Game of Thrones soundtrack.

Also read - 'Syria: Always Beautiful' - can tourism be a force for peace?

A song of lies and fire

The video, starting with its title 'Aleppo...Will of Life', is a lesson in irony as the city today is more a testament to extinguishing life.

Meant to portray Aleppo as a tourist destination, possibly for suicidal people, the video consists of long, slow shots of a fully functional and well-developed Aleppo. The Aleppo in the video is filled with beautiful hotels, verdant gardens and 5-star swimming pools is a far cry from the war-ravaged Eastern Aleppo. Maybe they should have run with the Stranger Things theme song because what we see in the video looks like Aleppo's version of The Upside Down.

We're unsure exactly what would possess the Syrian Tourism Ministry, the makers of the ad, to choose the Game of Thrones soundtrack. Perhaps they just googled 'most popular TV theme songs'.

Whatever the reason, the choice of the tune from the popular HBO show couldn't be more ironic as the show's bloody proceedings and vicious struggle for power closely mirror the actual reality of modern day Aleppo.

In fact, while the constant killings, eternal state of warring and corpse strewn battlefields make the show too graphic for some viewers, one look at the brutality in Aleppo would have people RSVPing to the show's infamous Red Wedding.

Also read - Come catch me: Syrian children demand attention through Pokemon Go

Life's a beach in Syria

This complete disconnect with reality is not the Syrian tourism ministry's first farcical attempt at pretending everything is alright. Scarcely a month ago, they released an equally ridiculous vide where they attempted to portray the country as a beach lover's wet dream.

In the video, revellers are shown frolicking in Syria's coastal waters, a far cry from the drowning refugees that are actually found off the coast of Syria, desperately fleeing the self-destructing country.

The ministry also claims tourism in the country is up 30%. However, there's no clarity as to whether this can be attributed to the presence of allied forces and foreign medical relief workers.

First published: 3 October 2016, 7:34 IST
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.