Children’s amusement parks thrive in Idlib city

Amusement parks and children's games thrive in the city of Idlib - April 11, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

Amusement parks and children's games thrive in the city of Idlib - April 11, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Idlib – Anas al-Khouli

After a 12-year hiatus, Othman Abdurrahman decided to reopen the Taiba amusement park previously owned by his father, hoping it would return to its former glory as the main destination for visitors from across northern Syria. The park was moved from its location near Saraqib to Idlib city.

Abdurrahman, who is displaced from Saraqib, inherited the Taiba amusement park, which gained widespread fame before 2011 and was a destination for visitors from various Syrian provinces due to its unique attractions, some of which are scarce in Syria.

Taiba amusement park, opened in 1980 near Saraqib on the international Aleppo-Latakia road (M4 Highway), featured a towering ferris wheel that reached an impressive height of 50 meters, and a roller coaster, among 15 other attractions, earning it widespread acclaim. However, it ceased operations in 2012 due to the war and the sensitive location of the park.

Abdurrahman told Enab Baladi that Taiba city is well-known and has its clientele, noting that the growth and urban expansion in Idlib encouraged him to reopen it despite the difficulties faced in transferring the amusement park from the Saraqib area, which is considered a front line, to Idlib city.

Abdurrahman sought the help of specialized engineers to perform comprehensive maintenance on the damaged attractions and rehabilitate the project, managing to reopen Taiba amusement park on the first day of Eid al-Fitr on April 10 this year.

Five amusement parks

The amusement parks in Idlib serve as a destination for many families, especially those who are displaced, as they provide a way to bring joy to children’s hearts. This has encouraged investors and owners to compete in importing distinctive attractions to draw in as many visitors as possible.

There are five thriving amusement park cities in Idlib. Some existed before 2011 and have been rehabilitated by their owners, like the ones at the Family Club and Taiba. Others were established more recently, such as the Happy Land, Al-Noor Tourist Complex and Disney Land.

The amusement parks in Idlib witness significant turnout especially during holidays, and the streets and squares near the parks are filled with cars and bikes, with visitors coming from various regions. Near the amusement park located on the western corniche of Idlib city, the line of parked cars stretches for more than a kilometer.

The price of a ride ticket ranges from 7.5 to 10 Turkish liras, and some attractions require two tickets to ride, such as the electric cars.

According to Abdurrahman, the cost of a single ride ticket is 10 Turkish liras, a rate set after studying the electricity costs consumed by the game and the financial capabilities of the families. He noted that the citizen’s turnout was very large and exceeded expectations during the holiday.

On the other hand, Absi Barhoum, a manager at the Happy Land amusement park on the Idlib corniche, believes the prices are affordable. After studying the economic situation of the citizens and the operating costs of the attractions, they settled on a ticket price of 7.5 Turkish liras, which he describes as “very modest” and much lower than the normal price for amusement parks.

Intense competition

The increasing demand for amusement parks and the proliferation of many such parks in Idlib city have encouraged owners to compete in the quality and uniqueness of attractions. Therefore, park owners continually aim to develop their games.

Absi Barhoum told Enab Baladi that he tries to update the attractions and introduce new games every year since the opening of the Happy Land park in 2017. He considers that the intense competition has encouraged amusement park owners to improve their attractions.

The Happy Land boasts 28 attractions, with 20 of them designed specifically for children, according to Barhoum. This year, the park introduced the Tornado, a 25-meter-high tower with rotating seats that ascend to the top and start spinning.

Barhoum mentioned that the youth are interested in adrenaline-boosting games due to their high excitement level, thus importing such games every year. In 2023, he brought in the spinning saucer ride, and in 2022, the park management imported the “Jelly Scoop” ride, which consists of two opposed seats rotating in all directions.

Othman Abdurrahman, the owner of the Taiba amusement park, relies on his 50-meter-high ferris wheel, the tallest in northern Syria, and the roller coaster to attract customers interested in thrilling rides.

Turkish-Russian Patrol on the international Aleppo-Latakia highway near Taiba amusement city - May 5, 2020 (Turkish Ministry of Defense)

Turkish-Russian Patrol on the international Aleppo-Latakia highway near Taiba amusement city – May 5, 2020 (Turkish Ministry of Defense)

Prices not affordable for everyone

Many citizens say that while the amusement park ticket prices are modest, they cannot afford them. Therefore, many prefer entertaining their children at public squares instead of taking them to amusement parks.

Ali Matar (35 years old), a displaced person living in Idlib and father of two said that children want to try all the rides at amusement parks, and a simple calculation shows that each child needs from 150 to 200 Turkish liras, which is a significant amount most families cannot afford.

Matar, a daily construction worker, gathers his children’s holiday money from relatives during Eid. If the sum is substantial, he takes the children to amusement parks, adding whatever lacks from his own money to indulge the children so they don’t feel deprived or inferior, he says.

Meanwhile, Abir al-Haj Khamees, a displaced widow living in Idlib and mother of three, relies on public holiday squares to entertain her children due to her inability to take them to amusement parks, considering that the parks are for those with higher incomes.

In northwest Syria, the daily wage of a worker is, at best, 100 Turkish liras (approximately three US dollars), while poverty threshold is recognized to be 10,843 Turkish liras, and extreme poverty threshold is 8,933 Turkish liras.

Northwest Syria is home to 4.5 million people, 4.1 million of whom need assistance, 3.3 million suffer from food insecurity, 2.9 million are internally displaced, and 2 million live in camps, according to the United Nations. Local statistics, however, indicate between 5.5 to 6 million people.


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