There’s a neverending argument over which Middle Eastern country does the best houmous, falafel, shawarma and baklava. For me, the answer is simple: Syria’s are the best, and nothing can beat our kibbeh!
Even though our country has been in the news for its tragic war, the rich cultural life of Syrian London – with its many community events, festivals, art exhibitions and concerts – is a strong reminder that we’re a resilient people determined to succeed. Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, art has been a creative tool to reflect on the struggle for freedom. And many community groups have been welcoming Syrians arriving in London, including ours: Ahlan Wa Sahlan. Meaning ‘welcome’, it’s a grassroots initiative helping refugees start a new life in London through English classes and social activities. We enjoy sharing Syrian food, music and stories of inspiring war survivors making London a second home. Fardous Bahbouh
Did you know? The Syrian Community School, founded in Ealing in 1991, has been a pioneer in teaching the Arabic language to children from all sorts of backgrounds.
Fardous’s favourite Syrian spots in London
For delicious authentic Syrian food, head to Ayam Zaman in Shepherd’s Bush, or to Abu Zaad, which has three branches in west London.
Find Syrian cultural events via the Arab British Centre or Arts Canteen. The Shubbak Festival of Arab culture is coming up in July, Nour Festival of Arts is in October, and Arab Women Artists Now is in March.
If you’re north-west, you should not miss the kibbeh at Aleppo House. My favourite Syrian dish, kibbeh is made of finely ground beef or lamb, mixed with cracked wheat and nuts and cooked in a variety of ways.
Oud master Rihab Azar is one of London’s many resident Syrian musicians, while Omar Souleyman, who updates Syrian wedding songs, plays the city often.
Hands Up Foundation organises a monthly supper club at E5 Bakehouse in London Fields. Or try Marhabtayn Syrian Supper Club: in Arabic ‘marhabtayn’ means ‘double welcome’!
The best of Syrian London, according to you
‘Damas Gate on Uxbridge Road is a great shop for proper Syrian food.’ Samar S via Facebook
‘Abu Zaad restaurant and Damas Gate supermarket in Shepherd’s Bush.’ @tweetasifind via Twitter
For more Levantine culture tips, check out the best of Lebanese London.
‘Ayam Zaman: cheap, cheerful and amazing houmous!’ Lauren R via www.timeout.com