Damascus became one of the Arab world’s leading sex tourism destinations during the 2000s due to a number of related geopolitical developments.
The most obvious is the Iraq war and the sudden influx into the country of more than a million Iraqi refugees.
Many of them are impoverished, and prostitution offers a means for women living on the margins of any society to earn a living.
Two years after the invasion of Iraq, in 2005, Syria also withdrew from Lebanon, following the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. That, too, led to a mass exodus. However, this time it was Syrians coming home from a country they had effectively been occupying. Many were extraordinarily wealthy, and they brought their cash back with them.
Soon, on the outskirts of Damascus, malls, restaurants, and nightclubs were forming entertainment districts where before there had been only sand. Word spread among Iraqi women that there were job opportunities there.
This transformation of the suburbs is colloquially referred to as the Beirutization of Damascus.
from John Bradley's 'Behind the Veil of Vice: The Business and Culture of Sex in the Middle East'