Dured Alhalabe is a Syrian refugee who embarked on a new beginning in Scotland after war tore his home apart.
Dured was just a 16 year old student, studying for his exams and dreaming about what his future held – until war changed all of that. After war broke out in his home country of Syria, Dured and his family were faced with a serious threat to their safety. During all this uncertainty, Dured’ family were offered the opportunity to come to Scotland – a day that Dured eagerly describes as “a truly great day”.
That was two years ago now, and was an event that changed all their lives forever. Dured admits that he was incredibly excited – if a little nervous – after hearing that he would be moving to Scotland to start a new life. However, any nerves that he had were completely washed away after only a few days in the country as he was introduced to Scotland’s world-renowned warm and open welcome.
Dured says that, in Scotland, he saw the opportunity to finally finish his studies and go to university. More importantly, he saw Scotland as a chance to have a better life, far away from the troubles back home. For the first time in years, he was able to think about the future again.
“When I first arrived in Scotland I was afraid because it's a new country and it’s very different from Syria, but all those worries disappeared as I started to meet people. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and it made me feel like I was in my own country and I was really happy. […] The community were really friendly; they helped us with our English, went shopping with us and taught us about how the public transport worked. All they wanted to do was help us”.
Dured maintains a strong desire to continue his educational journey and he still has a great passion for learning. Back home in Syria, Dured was actually one of the top students in his entire city, but all of his qualifications were lost when war broke out and he was forced from his home. However, Dured is more determined than ever to achieve his goals of going to university and supporting his family, even if it means starting all over again.
It wasn’t just the warmth of the people that Dured was so impressed by when he first arrived in Scotland. He was also blown away by the incredible range of stunning scenery that greeted him. Even when he was still on the plane he couldn’t wait to get his feet on the ground and explore. It may have been a little colder than he was used to back in Syria, but he soon forgot about the temperature.
Since arriving in Scotland, one of the things that Dured has done is try to help other Syrian families adjust to life in Scotland and make the most of their new beginning here. With that in mind, Dured helped set up the AMAL Project and was nominated to be its chairman. The AMAL project became such an amazing success that Dured won the prestigious Young Scot Community Award in 2017.
“I would give everything up to help my family and here I have more opportunity to continue my studies and do that. […] All my teachers said to me that I am a special student because I love studying. I was a good student in Syria and everyone knew that, but I want to improve on that here in Scotland. I am determined to prove to universities and colleges in Scotland that I am a good student”.
The aim behind the AMAL project is to help the Syrian community, specifically Syrian youths, to integrate into their Scottish communities. It was important for Dured to do something to show his thanks and he saw the project as a great opportunity to give something back to the community that welcomed him and his family with such open arms.