Syrian Opened A New Grocery Shop In The West Of The Belfast, After A Thriving Series Of Racially Motivated Attacks

Al Rayan Supermarket is a Mediterranean shop, where Mr Alkhamran will be selling groceries, spices, and coffee from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Arabic in general.

The west of Belfast city warmly welcomed a Syrian and his grocery shop earlier this month, offering a safer place for him to thrive, after a series of racial attacks in the previous locations. 

Mr Alkhamran, who fled the Syrian war, arrived in the city eight years ago, seeking a new home. Since then, he has been working day and night as a taxi driver to save money to enter into his own venture. He dreamed of starting his small business here. As things went well, finally the day had come. With all the money he earned throughout the years, he opened his first shop at Donegall Road in the south of the city. 

Unfortunately, that first shop was subjected to arsenal attacks and set fire four times in just two weeks last September. In the last attempt, a spray-painted message that reads “local houses nd shops only (sic)” was left behind on the shutter by the attackers. According to Mr Alkhamran, even from the off, he had a good relationship with the Northern Ireland community. So he believed it was only a small minority who were against him. 

“It was like a disaster for me. And the Donegall Road premises were a nightmare for me,” reported Mr Alkhamran to Irishnews.com

Though the investigations were going on one side, Mr Alkhamran, unshattered by the terrible attack, went back to work as a taxi driver for the past few months and saved money to reopen his shop in a new location.

Back then he also told the BBC that he still intended to open a grocery shop, and was looking for a safer location. The shop has been named Al Rayan Supermarket, and celebrated the grand opening on one wonderful Saturday of March on Falls Road in the west of Belfast City, earlier this month. 

It is a Mediterranean Shop!

Al Rayan Supermarket is a Mediterranean shop, where Mr Alkhamran will be selling groceries, spices, and coffee from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Arabic in general. Also, he will stock up on authentic hummus, halloumi, hummus, olives, and sweets such as baklava, a variety of dates, and more. He has expressed his plan to expand the stock items, once he gains more money. 

Looking back on his terrible days, Mr Alkhamran recalled that he had cruised 12 countries to arrive on the Northern Island to start a new journey. In the initial days, he struggled a lot to learn English to work here. As said earlier, what he always wanted is to open a small business. And, when he opened his first shop, the attacks threw roadblocks in his way. He said, “I had to get away from that area, I needed to be safe, and feel comfortable.”

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His recent months of endeavours are backed up by SDLP Councillor Paul Doherty, who helped him secure this new place at Falls Road and introduced him to the local community. Mr. Alkhamran told Irishnews.com, “I feel like I am welcome here, I am safe and happy and comfortable.

“I opened the shop on Saturday and people have been coming in to see it, that made me welcome. They told me, ‘glad you have opened here’ – that makes me happy.”

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