Hejhej Syria!

I have always been fascinated by other cultures and I love to sit down with people I never met and just ask them everything about their life. It’s important to stay curious and it’s so interesting to listen to other people’s lives, how they grew up and what daily life can look like in a different part of the world. I have therefore started my own little interview project that will be published here on the blog. I will interview people from different countries and background, obviously with my own extremely smart questions and we will take it from there.

First out * drums * : Mohamad Al Karbi from Syria!

Why Syria and Mohamed?

Because when I first started traveling to the Middle East 2011 I had Syria on my top of my list of countries that I wanted to visit the most. Unfortunately we all know what happened and it’s a very sad situation that we all wish will end sooner then later. I want to focus on Syria before the war and from a positive angle. A lot of people have left the country but the country hasn’t left the people. I want to hear what’s in their history and in the hearts.

And Mohamed! Obviously because he has such a nice and thought through blog and shares the same interest as me when it comes to being curious about other cultures and countries. He loves Sweden apparently so that’s a plus. I love the fact that these answers are not only from Mohamed but his family wanted to take part as well.

Please enjoy my short and sweet interview and the beautiful pictures that Mohamed has provided. Does it make you hungry? I’m going out for hummus now!

——

Thank you very much, Miss A, for giving me the opportunity to talk about Syria on your wonderful blog. Please note that the following answers were prepared by my whole family. We sat together for an hour or some drinking coffee and answering the interview’s questions 🙂

Q: Pretend it’s 2010, a time before the war started. What would you tell a tourist to do in Syria?

A: We hope the war ends soonest, so we can invite you all to visit Syria – a beautiful Mediterranean country. Every part of Syria has its own charm. We have deserts, mountains, ruins and cultures, coastal areas and green areas across the country. I need many posts to cover them all. However, I’m going to mention two places for now in Damascus: Old City and Bloudan.

You may visit my Syria’ album at Flickr on:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mohamadkarbi/albums/72157686468450746

Q: According to archeologist the Syrians have been drinking beer and wine for 4000 years. That makes me think I might be Syrian. Tell us more.

A: Damascus is the world oldest capital where the most delicious wine is made. Syria has the best grape vines, olive trees, and citrus fruits. Fresh grapes and citrus juice, or even barley juice, can do it for non-alcoholics. P.S., some argue that Damascus is the oldest city ever.

Grapes-Farms

Q: Is it correct that Syria used to be famous for having the most beautiful railway stations in the world? 

A: Hijaz station is the oldest railway in the area that is connecting Makkah with Damascus. As they are old and usually pass through beautiful places in Syria, trains are very suitable for families’ gathering; they are used mainly for the sake of fun and picnics.

Trains-funTrains-BeautifulPlacesTrains-OldTrains-HijazStation

Q: If you had to choose, which animals would the Syrians be if you weren’t humans and why?

A: Hmm!!! If we had to, I can say that we have the best of each 😉                                 Patience from camel, power/determination from eagle, humbleness from gazelle, …

Q:Which weird kind of food do Syrians eat?

A: Syria is very famous with the variety of dishes. Most of them are complicated and prepared on multiple levels until the final dish be ready. I consider Ozzie a weird food; baked dough stuffed with rice, meat, peas, and nuts!

Ozzie

Q: In Sweden we take out shoes off when entering a house. What kind of customs do someone that hasn’t been to a Syrian home need to think about before entering?

A: Oh my God, we do the same! All are to take shoes off before entering the house – often. Guests sit in the place assigned to by the hosts in a specific room (guests room). Appointment for visiting isn’t required in general; however, we ask for permission before entering… When food is offered, guests should have some (at least).

In general, all Syrians have the mentality of hospitality. If the invitation is for meal, the food should be home-made prepared by the land lady. To celebrate the guests, the host’s neighbors, friends, and family members might be invited to attend the gathering too.

There are morning gatherings for house wives on a periodic basis and usually they’re served by light delicacies. Female neighbors, even if they are foreigners, could expect an invitation. Relatively in weddings, the family of the bride and bridegroom usually welcome guests for 7 days after the wedding or after the newly born babies. P.S., wedding parties, originally, are not mixed – one party for men and a sperate one for women.

Q: Who wins the hummus war? I understand this is a sensitive question between Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.

A: Hummus was originated in the Levant – centuries ago. The Levant (was referred to as Greater Syria) consists of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. Each of which has its own tasty recipe of making this traditional dish.

Hummus-SyiraHummus-JordanHummus-MeatPineHummus-Mussabbaha

Q: The Syrians seems to be extremely social. Why is that? (This is a very Swedish question as we are not really known to be super social)

A: It’s in our blood. We are connected and very interrelated to the max. We share happiness and sadness with all our neighbors, families, and friends.

For example, in marriage, the family of the bride might collect information about the bridegroom’s profile from his neighborhood before giving the final acceptance. Another example is when you ask someone in the street about the direction to some place; they might not leave you until they make sure that you reached your destination. Furthermore, we might also offer advices even without being asked for…


Thanks for reading and hope you learnt something about Syria. You can find Mohamads blog here and previous blog post we have done together before, about Sweden, can be found here.

67 Replies to “Hejhej Syria!”

  1. Taking off shoes before entering a household has to be one of the most widespread practices then. Even we in Kenya consider it a good gesture (our dusty and muddy streets give us no option, really). Looking forward to learning about more cultures!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a great idea for a series! It reminds me of my favorite book series to read when I was a child. Each book focused on a family from a different part of the world and described their daily life and customs. It’s why I love blogging too: people from all over opening up about the joys and struggles of life. Looking forward to more!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You picked a wonderful man to interview! I also enjoy learning about Syria and it should be known how wonderful the people and country are. In fact, it has been a great luck for me to have known people from other countries in the Middle East that many from my country (US) don’t fully understand.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi Miss A. I have never been to the Middle East, but I have had a chance to meet many people from that part of the world (several Middle Eastern countries) through past jobs and local groups I attended. I’ve had friends from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon. And met or corresponded with wonderful people from UAE, Syria, and Turkey.

        Like

  4. Fascinating and motherwatering insights. Let’s hope the war is over soon. I would love to visit Syria. I’m a big fan of Mohamad’s blog and it’s great to read an interview with him. You write beautifully and ask intriguing and provocative questions. I particularly like the one about which animal Syrians would be. Look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great interview and responses. I’ve learnt more about you Mohamad. I didn’t know that Syria was famous for wine and that food looks amazing!

    It breaks my heart to see war in Syria (and anywhere else). We are only on this earth for such a fleeting moment in time, I wish war was a distant memory.

    I would love to visit Syria.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great interview! The customs are similar to what you’d seen in Muslim countries, being social, the importance of hospitality and honouring guest-right and, of course, taking off your shoes when you visit a household.
    The Ozzie looks delicious, it remind me of samosas but dough baked and round.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I personally love the social part. Seriously never experienced more help and support as when I moved to the Middle East. What people have done for me in the time of need, and without my family close by , without even knowing me, is something close to my heart.
      And of course, hummus 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So glad I saved this post until I could do it justice. I think culture is interesting too. I adhere to many Wog social traditions. (My father came to Australia as a 4 y.o. from Italy) if food is offered to you you take it. If you empty your plate Nona will assume you need more. And give you more. Yet, we were raised to not leave anything on the plate. Troubled could best describe my childhood. Cheers,H

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This was fascinating! His account of neighborly love seems unheard of in my American life, especially when you need someone most. I love has photo album as well. I couldn’t find a way to follow his blog, but thank you for sharing a glimpse of something the news only shows the bad parts of.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you liked it! I agree with you, neighborly love is something that’s much more common in the Arab world (as I know it) than in Europe or US. Isn’t that strange ? I wonder why that is.

      Like

  9. Ho visitato la Siria e Damasco soprattutto bellissima ricca di cultura era il 2002.
    Ogni guerra è il male assoluto perché distrugge culture millenarie e calpesta gli uomini e i sentimenti migliori.
    Grazie di questa bella intervista che ho apprezzato moltissimo.
    Shera

    Liked by 3 people

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