Syria/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The topics and main priorities of the cultural policies in Syria during the past few years can be followed through the main document adopted by the government as a strategic plan by the Ministry of Culture (MOC). This plan is known as the Tenth Five-Year Plan. It’s worth mentioning that most projects, proposed by the Ministry of Culture and its institutions necessary to perform cultural policies, had not been performed until 2009 which is the year before the last in the Tenth Five-Year Plan.

The Decision Support Directorate (a newly created body directly reporting to the Prime Minister) recently conducted a study which assessed the progress achieved in evaluating the strategies of the 10th Five-Year Plan which are:

Adopting the cultural development with its broad sense towards implementing the motto of “culture for all” through strengthening the concepts and human values to improve the cultural level of the citizens, to spread the culture of dialogue, and to introduce the Arab civilization and its message.

Improving the Syrian cultural product, providing the necessary enabling environment to enhance the cultural movement, spreading knowledge and culture amongst the people as it represents an investment sector as well as exploiting it for the best benefit of the individuals and the well-fare of the society.

Paying attention to the diverse Syrian cultural heritage, and promoting the archaeological sector and raising it to the sought level as well as paying it the necessary importance as it is considered one of the important component of the Syrian culture.

The report presents a reading of the Initiatives and the required reform projects with the aim of implementing the plan, namely, the plans presented by MOC and its affiliated institutions as important projects to carry out the government cultural policies. Most of these policies have not been implemented until 2009, knowing that the course of the current Five-Year Plan ends on 2010 [1]:


  • Initiative 1: the National Literacy Campaign.

  • Initiative 2: Establishing the museum of modern arts as well as centers of plastic art in the governorates.

  • Initiative 3: Developing the work for the cultural centers.

  • Initiative 4: Establishing the General Directorate for Theaters and Music.

  • Initiative 5: Promoting the level of prints published by the Ministry.

  • Initiative 6: Upgrading the cultural status and opportunities for children.

  • Initiative 7: Integrating children with special needs in society.

  • Initiative 8: The program of administrative development pertaining to the General Establishment - Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts.

  • Initiative 9: The program of the legislative development of the General Establishment - Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts.

  • Intiative 10: The program of the technical development of the General Establishment - Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts.

  • Initiative 11: Developing cinema industry.

  • Initiative 12: Restructuring and administrative reform of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums.

  • Initiative 13: Upgrading the archaeological sector.


Based on the assessment of the 10th Five-Year plan and the capability of the cultural institutions to implement and abide by it, the report issued by the Decision Support Directorate has called for carrying out a number of reforms on the level of policies, and the legal and institutional levels, and implementation requirements:


  • Working towards modifying laws and legislations which achieve the goals of the cultural development and boosting investment to grasp the goals of the 10th Five-Year plan.

  • Organizational and Institutional development and job allocation based on qualifications.

  • Encouraging the banks to enter as financers and investors in the process of the cinema production and to offer credit facilities to enhance private sector participation.

  • Establishing a national funds to support the industry of cinema within the framework of the Chamber of Cinema and TV Industry and finance the Funds by domestic resources.


The International Cooperation and Planning Commission has prepared a draft for the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) in cooperation with all related parties. This plan had four general ideas which are:


  • Improving the cultural level of citizens and choosing cultural development within its wide definition towards “culture for all”.

  • Reserving heritage diversity and promoting the conditions of archaeology.

  • Renovating cultural production and advertising for culture and knowledge amongst citizens.

  • Easing the approach of culture and knowledge sources and reducing their expenses for individuals and society.


The priorities of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan were determined by concentrating on agriculture and transformative industry, which provides many job opportunities. In addition to the importance of eliminating development dissimilarity between governorates, which requests a big governmental budget in the field of infrastructure to lessen the dissimilarity to the minimum. Basically, one third of the governmental five-year-spending goes to human development while another third goes to development in the real production sectors and the last goes to infrastructure. As well as spending on programs and projects aiming to support woman and reduce poverty, which affects  the weak groups in the society, those of who will be targeted with intense programs which help them fund their small projects.


[1]           Initiatives and reform projects to implement the tenth five-year plan.

Chapter published: 06-05-2016