After all what I had experienced and after all what I had gone through, you can imagine what Aberdeen means to me. How lovely and warm Aberdeen is despite its weather.”Mohamed Zaher Al Bakour
How did you end up in Scotland?
To be honest, I still don’t believe I am in Scotland. In June 2016, I was in Aleppo, Syria working in both the academic and pharmaceutical industries where there was no hope for anything to get any better at all. Any place could have been targeted!
Leaving Syria was literally impossible, and living there was also even worse – it was considered to be the riskiest city in the world to live in.
I didn’t choose to come to here. I approached more than 50 countries, sending more than 600 emails to find a place where I could pursue my studies or work. The only country that opened its doors for me was Scotland.
In September 2016, this journey in my life started when the University of Aberdeen offered me a fully funded scholarship to study a Masters in Clinical Pharmacology through the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara). Now I am still fully funded for my PhD in Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology). You can imagine the desperation, hopelessness and sustained stress I lived under until Scotland said I was welcome.
How do you find life here?
I still don’t believe it! I feel like I am in a dream where nothing is real about the story of how I came to be here.
After all what I had experienced and after all what I had gone through, you can imagine what Aberdeen means to me. How lovely and warm Aberdeen is despite its weather.
You can imagine how Scotland rescued my wife and I when we were struggling to find a safe place, unable to plan for our future into a life where we are now safe, pursuing our studies and even enjoying our day-to-day life with our one-year-old baby.
Here, my qualifications and skills have not only been recognised and enriched, but I also was offered a placement to be working with world-leading scientists. Can you imagine that?
I want to add that the first thing that you immediately realise when you first meet Scottish people is how lovely, supportive and welcoming they are. They always speak to you, show empathy and offer help, even when you meet someone on a bus or a train. You really feel you are still home but with a new big Scottish family to whom you will always be grateful for the rest of your life.