In Sweden, Syrian refugees give new life to struggling city of Malmö

The Guardian reports: When Fisal Abo Karaa stepped off the train in Malmö’s central station this time last year, exhausted after a long journey by train and boat, he looked like any other victim of Syria’s terrible civil war.

It wasn’t until April, when Malmö’s main shopping street was filled with the sound of Syrian bagpipes, drums and dancing that he made his presence felt. The opening of Jasmin Alsham, his new restaurant, was the most visible sign yet of an unexpected injection of Syrian money hitting Sweden’s third city.

Abo Karaa and his partners have invested a rumoured five million Swedish kronor (£400,000) converting what was once a Pizza Hut into a replica Damascene house. It is one of five Syrian restaurants to have opened in less than a year. “There are people saying that the Syrians have come and want to buy up everything,” says Ibrahim, a hairdresser and member of the Nahawand shisha smoking club, a meeting place for the city’s established Arab businessmen.

“There’s many, many Syrian people who want to move money to Sweden,” says Maher Alkhatib, from Damascus, who opened a restaurant last year. “I know people in the Emirates, they are asking me, ‘Find a good project so we can invest money’.”

Abo Karaa’s family owned four factories in Homs exporting paper tissues all over the Arab world. “We have lost in Syria millions of dollars, and many assets,” his nephew Mohammed says. [Continue reading…]

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