THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

The sweet smell of success

JORDAN: Aromas of orange blossom, almond and coconut waft from the northern Jordan shop of Mazen Obeido, a 42-year-old Syrian who never imagined he would prosper again far from home.

culturedeathmilitaryimmigration
By AFP

Sunday 12 November 2017, 03:00PM


Men work at a shop in the northern Jordanian town of Irbid selling traditional Syrian sweets, that is owned by Syrian refugee Mazen Obeido who fled the conflict in his homeland. Photo: Khalil Mazraawi / AFP

Men work at a shop in the northern Jordanian town of Irbid selling traditional Syrian sweets, that is owned by Syrian refugee Mazen Obeido who fled the conflict in his homeland. Photo: Khalil Mazraawi / AFP

“In Damascus I had several shops and everything was fine, but a year after the outbreak of the war, I left everything behind,” said the master pastry chef and father of three who said he no longer felt safe in his home country.

So he decided to start again from scratch and hired a property in Irbid north of Amman, half of which became his kitchen and the other half the shop.

Around 200,000 refugees from Syria now live in the town 89 kilometres north of the capital.

Jordan hosts about 650,000 people who have fled from neighbouring Syria because of the conflict that erupted there in 2011, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The authorities in Amman say the number is double that – at 1.3 million.

According to the UNHCR, more than 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line.

“I worked night and day without stop,” said Obeido, whose efforts have paid off and meant he could again expand.

“I opened a second shop, then a third, a fourth and then a fifth,” he said, proud to continue a trade that was passed down from father to son.

Sesame cakes, baklava, semolina cakes sprinkled with pistachios or traditional ice-cream – he makes and sells in Jordan the same products that used to be displayed on large trays in his stores in Syria.

There, “Jordanians came in their dozens to my shops. At weekends, they bought up 90% of my pastries which were much cheaper than in Jordan,” he recalled.

Syria was once a gourmet’s paradise, with its barazek – small biscuits sprinkled with pistachio and sesame seeds – its mabrouma baklava rolls and its cheese sweets.

QSI International School Phuket

In his bakeries and shops where Obeido employs around 100 people, mostly Syrians, his delicacies are created with special implements from his homeland.

“In order to make high-quality Damascus sweets, you need special tools from Syria,” Obeido said.

“Bringing them to Jordan by air cost a lot, but the results are incredible.”

He is delighted that many compatriots who have learned the trade thanks to his help have gone into business outside Jordan by opening pastry shops in Turkey, France, Germany and as far away as Canada and the United States.

Recalling the proverb that it is better to teach someone how to fish rather than give him a fish, Obeido said he wants to help his fellow Syrians, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled the war.

“I want to teach them the trade so they can live in dignity – I want them to learn how to fish for themselves,” he said.

With the help of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Obeido has begun free training sessions for the most vulnerable refugees, such as widows and girls with no means of support.

“I love my work – the smells here are a constant reminder of my country,” said 22-year-old Haifa al-Ali from Aleppo, Syria’s one-time commercial capital.

A nurse, she underwent three months’ training before joining one of Obeido’s pastry kitchens.

Even though pastries prepared in Jordan are a reminder of home, “they taste different at home in Syria, with family and friends,” said teacher and mother of three Arwa Nabulsi, summing up the frustration felt by her compatriots forced into exile.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Police traffic tickets set to go digital

Drunk cyclists? Come on, that can't actually be a thing. What is there, like one? Focus on moto...(Read More)


Sunscreen among contributing factors killing Phuket’s coral reefs

...right,also customs should check every Chinese tourist to make sure none of this sunscreens been s...(Read More)


US Govt shutdown prevents tsunami-warning buoy going live

I wounder who would be responsible right now if something would happen?...(Read More)


Layan lockout: Public access denied amid Supreme Court wrangle for B10bn beachfront land

Well, there is only fool out of the 60 milllion population who thinks, government action against no...(Read More)


New B25mn tsunami-warning buoy ‘to be operational tomorrow’

Not matter of being worried/panic when you live high/dry. A 1.5 year not working Tsunami buoy is no...(Read More)


TAT cultivates India as rich source of tourist arrivals

Westerners were the #1 tourists. 4 years ago, Thailand made changes to make things less desirable fo...(Read More)


TAT cultivates India as rich source of tourist arrivals

Have written it before, finished and scammed+++ Europeans and then it was Chinese next is Indian and...(Read More)


Sunscreen among contributing factors killing Phuket’s coral reefs

Sun-protection creams, soaps, shampoos during boat trips or during fishing for all professional fish...(Read More)


Tout dumps slow loris with tourist, evades arrest at Kata Beach

I think my know everything thai, has a very short, or damaged, memory, a very quick search throws th...(Read More)


Bad day in Phuket: Australian found hanged, Frenchman dies of heart attack

Not a good day for the police officers? I bet the two dead guys were not that happy about it either....(Read More)