Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital

1 / 3
Syrians benefit from visa-free entry to Sudan and more than 200,000 have arrived since 2011. (AFP)
2 / 3
At the heart of the Sudanese capital, Syrian eateries brimming with customers stand along the street sides of an upscale area filled with mouthwatering aroma of Levantine dishes. (AFP)
3 / 3
Sudan hosts more than 100,000 Syrians who moved to the North African country at the height of their country’s civil war which broke out some nine years ago. (AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital

  • The tantalizing odors of popular Syrian dishes of shawarma, fatteh and garlic sauce fill the air of the Kafouri district
  • Khartoum residents now flock to restaurants serving Syrian delicacies

KHARTOUM: In the heart of the Sudanese capital, crowds are drawn by mouthwatering aromas to Syrian eateries that line an upscale Khartoum neighborhood.
The tantalizing odors of popular Syrian dishes of shawarma, fatteh and garlic sauce fill the air of the Kafouri district.
“Syrian restaurants are distinctive,” said Salaheddin Adam, queueing outside one restaurant.
“Their interior designs are appealing and they are always clean and offer varied menus,” he added, while waiting for his chicken shawarma wrap.
In the traditional Sudanese turban and white jalabiya, the 34-year-old meat trader said he particularly relishes Syrian appetisers.
“They have a special taste and add flavor to the dishes,” he said.
Syrians benefit from visa-free entry to Sudan and more than 200,000 have arrived since 2011, fleeing their country’s war, according to local NGO figures from last year.
Khartoum residents now flock to restaurants serving Syrian delicacies, making it often hard to find a table at restaurants in the Kafouri district.
“Shawarma, shish taouk and kebabs have long been served at Sudanese restaurants. Still, they are not as good as those at Syrian restaurants,” said Ahmed Suleiman.
The 28-year-old is a regular at one of the Syrian eateries, which he lauded for the “taste and quality” of their food.
The Syrian presence in the area, where Levantine Arabic is widely heard, has also led to fierce competition between restaurants.
For Suleiman, the rivalry benefits Sudanese diners.
“Every restaurant has its specialty. They generally excel in their service as opposed to Sudanese people,” he said.
“We try to support them through their crisis by frequenting their restaurants,” he added.
More than 5.6 million Syrians have fled their country, according to the United Nations, since the conflict erupted in 2011 with a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests.
Syrians who opted to settle in Sudan enjoy equivalent rights to nationals, including access to health care and education.
They are also allowed to apply for jobs and run businesses.
Malik Abdul Wahab, from the Syrian city of Aleppo, arrived shortly after the start of his country’s war.
He opened the “Ayamak Ya Sham” or “The days of the Levant” restaurant which now has a staff of more than 15, the majority Syrians.
“We are keen to provide maximum cleanliness and quality. We also care about good treatment of customers,” said the 32-year-old.
Syrian cuisine offers a wider variety of dishes than Sudanese food, and they are cheap to make and come in plentiful portions.
“We are keen to offer new and varied foods, not known to the people,” said Abdel Wahab, boasting that there are more than 100 different Syrian dishes.
One of his customers, Nihad Al-Fateh, praised the “diversity of dishes” provided while waiting for her shawarma wrap with garlic sauce.
But Sudanese citizens are suffering from financial woes, with price rises late last year sparking mass protests that ultimately led to the ousting in April of longtime leader Omar Al-Bashir.
The current political and financial crisis has led to “soaring prices of all the ingredients,” said Abdul Wahab, who is trying not to push up prices significantly.
In the capital’s Riyadh neighborhood, the Levantine influence can also be heard as passers-by sing along to Syrian songs played by restaurants.
Mohamed Abdel Sabour, a Sudanese engineer, eats regularly at Syrian outlets which he says are more welcoming than Sudanese ones.
Khaled, who runs a Syrian eatery in the Riyadh area, boasted of having “permanent Sudanese customers.”
“We try to please the customer to make sure that they visit again.”


Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

Updated 19 August 2019

Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

  • Then Russian Navy Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko wrote the letter when he was a 36-year-old aboard the Sulak
ANCHORAGE, Alaska: A man discovered a 50-year-old letter in a bottle from the Russian Navy on the shores of western Alaska.
Tyler Ivanoff found the handwritten Russian letter early this month while gathering firewood near Shishmaref about 600 miles (966 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage, television station KTUU reported.
“I was just looking for firewood when I found the bottle,” Tyler Ivanoff said. “When I found the bottle, I had to use a screwdriver to get the message out.”
Ivanoff shared his discovery on Facebook where Russian speakers translated the message to be a greeting from a Cold War Russian sailor dated June 20, 1969. The message included an address and a request for a response from the person who finds it.
Reporters from the state-owned Russian media network, Russia-1, tracked down the original writer, Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko, KTUU reported.
He was skeptical he wrote the note until he saw his signature on the bottom.
“There — exactly!” he exclaimed.
The message was sent while the then 36-year-old was aboard the Sulak, Botsanenko said. Botsanenko shed tears when the Russian television reporter told him the Sulak was sold for scrap in the 1990s.
Botsanenko also showed the reporter some souvenirs from his time on the ship, including the autograph of the wife of a famous Russian spy and Japanese liquor bottles, the latter kept over his wife’s protests.
Ivanoff’s discovery of the bottle was first reported by Nome radio station KNOM.