Imad Alarnab of Imad's Syrian Kitchen

Imad Alarnab: “I left Syria in 27th of July 2015 and of course, from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France and then the UK. So, I arrived to the UK in 5th of October 2015. Of course it's not easy journey but because I'm lucky guy and I was surrounded by angels all the way, starting from Greece to, to here, actually I don’t know, until now I'm surrounded by angels. So yeah, this is it was not that easy, but again, it's not annoying, you know, like you're doing something hard, but you are every day there is new friends, you're meeting all of these volunteers, nice people, human being really, really human being yeah, which is giving you hope that if you keep continue, you're going to achieve what you're looking for. 

Syria before 2012 were the perfect place to run a business, doing friends, relationships, it's very, very nice to live in. Hopefully one day we hope that it's going to be much better than before and hopefully we will be part of that rebuilding Syria again. The news in general, we, we, I always on the TV to see what's going on over there sometimes just to see a street we know, sometimes just to hopefully they get out like video shooting my place or my street, or our house or whatever. And of course, I'm keeping up with like, WhatsApp, Viber, whatever with the messengers with my friends, my families, it's, it's not easy. Not for us, not for them, because we miss them and we want them to be safe and happy, which is something we can't help with so you feel sometimes you feel desperate like you want to do something, but you can't. 

Thinking about Damascus make me, I don't know, hopefully one day it will be, yeah, the Damascus we know before because, you know, even, even if, let's say, even if now I went back to Damascus, I'm going to keep missing my old Damascus. It's, it's not the same. It's not the same city at all.”

Imad Alarnab is a Syrian restaurateur who left Damascus as a refugee in July 2015. He travelled to the UK through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and France.

He has been living in London for the last two years and has recently started a pop-up café called Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. 

Keeping in touch with friends and family at home is made possible by social media, but it’s not easy. 

'We miss them and we want them to be safe and happy, which is something we can’t help with,' he said.

'Sometimes you feel desperate, like you want to do something but you can’t.'

His memories of Damascus conflict with the images he sees on television news broadcasts covering the conflict in his homeland but, he says, he can’t help watching, in case he can catch a glimpse of streets or houses that he recognises. 

'We all hope to go back one day,' he says. 'And hopefully it will be the Damascus we know from before the war.'

Imad visited IWM for the Conflict Café, held as part of IWM’s Syria: A Conflict Explored season. 

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