A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut

A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut
Al-Arab was surprised to stumble across the refrigerator that he had left behind in Bab Sabaa in a Beirut store. (File/Getty Images)
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Updated 25 October 2020

A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut

A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut
  • I checked the fridge well. I recognized it from a distinguishing mark in one of its lower corners: Al-Arab
  • He said that when he brought the fridge home, his wife screamed and cried, and so did his daughter

BEIRUT: Mohammed Al-Arab, a Syrian refugee, was displaced from Bab Sabaa in Homs (30 kilometers northeast of the Lebanese-Syrian border) to Beirut as war raged in his country.
He left his house and shop in July 2012, after he and his family were displaced due to the bombing, deciding to seek refuge in Lebanon until the war ended.
Eight years have passed since the displacement; Al-Arab settled in Beirut, rented a home for his family in the Corniche Al-Mazraa area, and resumed his work as a plumber. Years passed, and his children grew older.
“A few weeks ago, my wife told me we needed a freezer. I went to a store that sells electrical appliances in a working-class neighborhood in Beirut.” Whilst there, he was surprised to stumble across a refrigerator — the one he and his family had left behind in Bab Sabaa.
“I froze. I was unable to speak. It was like someone I had seen someone I thought was dead,” he told Arab News. “I remembered the day I bought this fridge in Homs — it cost me 40,000 Syrian pounds, the equivalent of $800 at the time. Its brand is Al-Joud, made in Syria and manufactured in Lattakia. I checked the fridge well. I recognized it from a distinguishing mark in one of its lower corners. I asked the seller about the price and, after some bargaining, managed to buy it for 580,000 Lebanese pounds ($380).
Al-Arab said that when he brought the fridge home, his wife screamed and cried, and so did his daughter. “My wife said: ‘This fridge is a symbol of our suffering, our weariness and our lives. We bought it at a time when we were enjoying stability in our country and the roof of a home we owned protected us,’” he added.
The family home was “destroyed by bombing that demolished the ceilings and walls, and there was no trace of furniture inside the house and no goods in the shop, according to the pictures that relatives sent us after the war in the area subsided,” Al-Arab said. “That means that the stuff was stolen before the destruction. What survived the theft was my car that I parked in front of my wife’s family home, far from the area of the clashes.”
Al-Arab refused to reveal the identity of the merchant who sold him the fridge, and Arab News tried to follow the path of this fridge and how it got to Beirut.
Syrian refugees have many stories of stolen goods and their sale. Jumah, a young greengrocer from Idlib who works in Lebanon, said: “Syrians who fled from Aleppo to Idlib to escape the battles were surprised after a period of time that the contents of their homes were sold in public markets in Idlib.”
Sami, a young Lebanese from the Bekaa, said: “During the years of war in Syria, the stolen goods from nearby areas to the Lebanese borders were smuggled into Lebanon and displayed in Bekaa towns for sale. Among these stolen goods were tractors, windows, home furniture and electrical tools.”
Dr. Hadi Murad is a physician and activist in the field of combating smuggling medicine across the Lebanese-Syrian border. Murad, who lives in Brital on the border with Syria, said: “All villages and towns on the common border between Lebanon and Syria, specifically the towns of Nabi Chit, Brital, and Al-Khader, are crossings for all types of smuggling. More than 50 percent of the illegal crossings are in this region, and are protected by Hezbollah.”
Al-Arab does not care much about the thefts that occurred. For him, this matter has become of secondary importance. The priority is to know the fate of missing people instead.
“Our pain is much greater than the issue of thefts,” he said. “The Syrian people are exhausted. Our children are left without education, and no one can protect us in the countries (we have emigrated to). We are left to our destinies, without medical care nor education, nor do we know the fate of the missing in Syria. The father of my brother-in-law left his home and disappeared; my cousin left his home to buy a bundle of bread and never came back. Many tragedies have not been written yet.”


Trump grants Bahrain’s King Hamad top honor on last day in office

Outgoing US President Donald Trump awarded the King of Bahrain the Legion of Merit with the Degree of Chief Commander. (File/AP)
Outgoing US President Donald Trump awarded the King of Bahrain the Legion of Merit with the Degree of Chief Commander. (File/AP)
Updated 19 January 2021

Trump grants Bahrain’s King Hamad top honor on last day in office

Outgoing US President Donald Trump awarded the King of Bahrain the Legion of Merit with the Degree of Chief Commander. (File/AP)
  • King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa was given the US award after Bahrain normalised relations with Israel
  • The king was also recognized for his ‘prominent role in pushing bilateral cooperation’

LONDON: Bahrain’s King Hamad was awarded a rare medal by US President Donald Trump in recognition of his “remarkable efforts” to consolidate relations and the close partnership between the two countries, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Tuesday.
Trump decorated the monarch with the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, “a rarely-awarded, prestigious decoration that can only be bestowed by the president, typically to chiefs of state or heads of government of other countries,” the White House said.
The king was also recognized for his “prominent role in pushing bilateral cooperation to broader and more comprehensive horizons, which promoted the common interests of the two countries and its peoples,” BNA said.
The outgoing American leader said that he was “pleased to present this medal to the king, who over decades contributed to establishing Bahrain’s position as a steadfast strategic ally and partner working alongside the United States.”
Trump added that Manama’s support for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is stationed in Bahrain, had a supportive role in enabling it to perform its multiple tasks and he praised the king’s courage and wise leadership vision for his support for peace and his decision to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.
He described this decision as the start of a new era of economic and security cooperation among the most important US partners in the Middle East and made peace in the region a possible process that would reshape the region’s landscape in a positive way for future generations.
The American president said that the partnership between the two countries would become deeper in the Middle East.
“The king’s decorating of this prestigious medal is an indication of the high position that he enjoys in the US, and the great appreciation for the prominent roles and major contributions he has made in enhancing security, stability, and prosperity with the vision of spreading peace in the region,” the statement added.
In its final days in office, the Trump administration announced the designation of both Bahrain and the UAE as “major security partners” of the US, a status unique to both countries that demonstrated a “new level of partnership” and “represents an enduring commitment to economic and security cooperation.
“It also reflects their extraordinary courage, determination, and leadership in entering into the Abraham Accords,” the White House said on Friday.
Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco, and Sudan joined Egypt and Jordan to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel last year, in deals brokered by the US.
Also, on Friday, Trump decorated Morocco’s King Mohammed VI with the same accolade bestowed on King Hamad for “vision and personal courage,” especially his decision to resume ties with Israel, that “have positively reshaped the landscape of the Middle East and North Africa and ushered in a new era of security and prosperity for both our countries and the world.”
The Legion of Merit is a military award that was created to honor Allied leaders in World War II and had gone into obscurity until it was revived by Trump, who last month also presented it to the prime ministers of Australia, India, and Japan.

(With AFP)