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I’m traveling through Syria with [Anthropologie buyer-at-large] Keith Johnson and the team from his TV show, “Man Shops Globe” (Wednesday nights on the Sundance Channel). We’re here to explore the souks of Damascus, the capital city, and later we’re going to Aleppo, which is about 200 miles away. My cousin Kenneth suggested Syria for its authentic markets that are not touristy.

The scene in Damascus is right out of “Arabian Nights,” so exotic. We feel like we’ve stepped back in time. We’re staying at the Beit Rumman, a six-room boutique hotel with 17th-century architecture that used to be a private residence. Our first night in town we saw a man at the Oriental Palace Hotel perform a traditional whirling dance!

This story first appeared in the April 5, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The main market here is a domed Ottoman building filled with miles and miles of spices, sweets, textiles, metal works, fruits and vegetables. Locals are doing their daily shopping (along with some visiting Iranians on their New Year holiday).

Arabic Qasr Al Khair has become my favorite restaurant. It’s located in an ancient palace and serves delicious fattoush salad [a mix of chopped vegetables and pita bread]. And my new favorite drink is Polo, made from freshly squeezed lime juice, mint and sugar.

We ran into the whirling dervish again, but this time he was in a costume covered with tiny lights! Electric.


Editor’s note: Anna Sui returned to New York last week from Syria.

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