Amanda and Yasar in Damascus

Having once branded Syria part of the "Axis of Evil", the US administration is now aware of its potential as a stabilising force in the region – but the mutual suspicion remains.

Despite the ever changing political backdrop, this mainly Sunni nation of 19 million people continue to get on with their everyday lives.

We have just 48 hours to explore just what that means in the Syrian capital.

Guiding Amanda through the Middle East's oldest inhabited city is 26-year-old Yasar, a local student and filmmaker.

Yasar worked with the 48 team for a month before filming started and, frustrated with stereotypes that colour the world's perception of his home city, he volunteered to lift the lid on life for young Damascenes.

Jaramana camp
Yasar and Amanda start out in the back-streets of the capital's old town, where dozens of new cyber cafes bristle with foreign students and entrepreneurial young locals.

The recent dawn of the internet era has offered Syrians a rare window on the outside world, and is undoubtedly changing the lives of a generation, despite government censorship.
 
Over the next two days Amanda and the crew discover a city of religious, political and cultural contrasts.

They visit the Ommayed Mosque, a former temple, which retains the Byzantine murals of its Christian predecessor because local Muslims respect its beautiful craftsmanship.

A girls' night out with a group of educated Syrian women gives an insight into their hopes and aspirations. Muslim and Christian alike, they are feeling the pinch of an unprecedented 'man drought' due to young men moving overseas for greater work opportunities.
 
Heavy metal singer Eva
Syria has always offered a safe haven to Palestinian refugees, but conditions at the vast Jaramana camp, which houses a fraction of the 400,000 Palestinians, are far from ideal.

Amanda meets Fatima, a mother of two who has never set foot beyond the boundaries of the camp, and finds out why she and her compatriots continue to reject permanent residency.
 
In a dingy cramped basement on the other side of town, 48 discovers a group of defiant musicians who are risking the wrath of the police – and their families – by indulging their passion for heavy metal.

Finally, the crew joins hundreds of the city's minority Christian population as they fill the streets for Easter celebrations.
 
Watch this episode of 48 here:
 
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Part 2:
 
 


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