Dalrymple explains one of his preferences here:
Two photographs in the newspapers moved me more than any others. They were not those of corpses strewn across the rubble, and other such sights to which we have now grown accustomed as we eat our morning toast. No; they were photos of the souk in Aleppo before and after bombardment.
How attractive, architecturally and socially, the souk was before it was reduced to rubble! In a word, how civilised! I have always preferred souks to supermarkets, whatever the vaunted advantages of the latter. Even if it were true that supermarkets offered more choice (I am not sure that it is, I think it likely that they offer more choice of what should not be chosen), as human institutions souks are preferable.