Independent spirit

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Ahmed Dablat always wanted to be self-employed. Fate brought this Syrian refugee to Luxembourg where he finally realised his dream of starting his own business. A journey full of pitfalls. A portrait.

The Syrian has been living in Luxembourg for seven years now. Like his compatriots, he fled the war and the terror regime of Bashar al-Assad. Well, not exactly. Ahmed had already left for Dubai when the war broke out in his country. Now 34 years old, he left home as soon as possible: "I have been working since I was 14 years old, I left my parents' house as soon as I could because I have always had an independent spirit. So I was in Dubai when the war started, I didn't see all that…" Except when he returns home to celebrate the end of Ramadan with his family, an argument between neighbours breaks out, a crowd forms in the street, Ahmed goes to try to restore calm, but he didn't count on the regime's soldiers who see a crowd and fire live ammunition from afar. The young man escaped with a bullet in his arm, the scar of which is still visible today. What was supposed to be a few days of festivities with his family turned into a long stay in hospital. Ahmed will never set foot in his native country again.

Syria, Dubai, Turkey, Luxembourg

In Dubai, he worked as a taxi driver and then in the decoration field, in the HR department of a large company. One big difference he notes between the Arab countries and the West: "Here you see the experience on the refugees' CVs and you think we are lying because there are too many different things and no documents to prove what we say. First of all, you have to know that we come from countries at war, so the documents… But it's also cultural, we multiply experiences because we don't have a government to support us in case of hard times like here. In Arab countries, if something goes wrong, you have to know how to bounce back very quickly and adapt to the situation because we don't have a safety net." His adventure in Dubai came to an abrupt end and Ahmed found himself in great difficulty: "I could no longer stay in Dubai, Syria is still at war and I couldn't go back. I didn't know where to go", he says. So he first went to Turkey, a major destination for Syrian refugees, where one of his brothers was.

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