It is Official! I am Now a Political Refugee In Italy

It was back in 2013 when I decided to seek asylum in Mainland China. Yes, I know mainland China is not exactly a ” pro human rights ” country but I had no other choice. I was studying and living in China at that time. I heard the news by friends who are still in Saudi that the Saudi Arabian intelligence police are starting a campaign against activists and bloggers accusing them of apostasy and terrorism to justify long prison or death sentences .  Many have been arrested with no charges or trials too! some were banned from traveling outside Saudi Arabia.. and some tried to escape and failed like Hamaza Khasghari and some made it and escaped just like me!

This Anti-activists campaign  comes as no surprise to everyone after the Arab spring, As  Saudi Arabia knew that this political chaos is sooner or later going to hit Saudi. At first, it started with high profile activists like Raif Badawi and Waleed Abukhair and Shia rebels who were protesting  in Eastern province where majority of Shiite minority lives. Then this campaign extended further more to include some other activists and  Sunni religious figures who are anti Al Saud regime.

It is difficult to tell how many have been arrested or killed since this campaign started!  many who were imprisoned did not want to make their arrest go public, as they fear that publicity will negatively affect their trial like it did with other activists before them.

One of them is a friend of mine, A.H.S whom I asked him to join me in China before its too late. Unfortunately, it was too late for him.  He was arrested and charged with apostasy. He was released not so long ago after he appealed but he is still banned from traveling out of Saudi Arabia.

Seeing the news of continuous arbitrary detention of  Saudi activists was upsetting, but what is even more upsetting was this international ” silence” that is bought by the  Saudi black gold.

All this made me reckon that staying in Saudi as an activist wouldn’t be a good idea. Thats when I decided seek asylum in China.

Not knowing how things work, I first went to the Norwegian embassy which advised me to go to UNHCR– Beijing.   I was given an appointment in 2014.  Then it took another year of intensive investigation  and extremely long very tiring and emotional interviews   before the committee of UNHCR come to their final decision which was in May 2015.

I will never forget the phone call when the a member of the UNHCR told me that my request of international protection has been approved by the committee. I was in shock, I remember I  cried and smiled at the same time upon receiving the news through the phone.

Maybe it was a combination of sadness and happiness.. knowing that this is it, a one way ticket to freedom and the no return point. I will be gaining freedom but losing family, friends and a lot more.  I must admit,  It is a very difficult compromise . I still recall Manal Al Sharif warning me saying ”Omaima, don’t burn the bridges behind you, you might want to go back”.

There were difficult times in which I had feelings of regret, self-pity and nostalgia.  For instance, the time I had a car accident in China in  April 2016 and I was  alone with an injured spinal cord. Another time when I had legal issues in Norway when I was trying to transfer my UNHCR refugee status to Norway and it didn’t work. Then when I was brought by police force to Italy and sent to a former prison that was transformed into a illegal refugee reception center! yes, Ironically My UNHCR refugee status was meaningless and useless that is  what I found out later.  Maybe I will write about those horrible experiences that I had to go through in another post.

I had to  go through the suffering again  and repeat the process in Italy, I had to go through everything from zero as if I have not done it before.  I came to Italy in the summer of 2016. and  received the news on the 10th of Nov 2017. It  took  about 15 very  long months.

As you might all know, Europe is going through refugee crisis. However, Italy along with Greece deal with the crisis the most because of the high influx of migrants coming by the sea from the Libyan shores. Italy is one of the worst countries to be refugee in. I must say being a refugee here is not a walk in the park. It takes a high threshold of patience to be able to endure all this suffering I have been through.  So Saudi activists out there be warned, the price of freedom is high. Sadly, pain, loneliness and hardship is part of it. I will be writing a post about My journey  as asylum seeker sometime in the future.

I writing this post to just happily announce that finally this very long and bitter struggle is over and My journey  has came to an end. Now with this political refugee status I can obtain a refugee travel document and legal papers that allow me to stay in Italy, travel abroad and have a normal life.



The Long Journey to Freedom

Dear Readers,

I know I have not been blogging for a while now, that is because I have been on the road looking for a country to settle in.

I obtained a refugee status (international protection) from The United Nation Office in China and went to Norway. Unfortunately and I must say unexpectedly, Norway has rejected to take my case and deported me out!

Yes, shocking isn’t?

 Hence, I am now on the road again looking for place to settle.

I am hoping that soon I will be blogging again to write about my never ending journey to freedom.




A Dish of Cockroaches and Toilet Flies

Reader discretion advised, this post contain disgusting materials.

hala chinese food

It was casual school day when my brother and I were taking a walk downtown and noticed this small local restaurant that serves Uyghur food in the corner of a busy commercial street. The restaurant had a rusty small unnoticeable blue signs says ”halal food”. My brother and I decided to go in. As we stepped into the restaurant through a barely fitting small door, a handsome Uyghur man with beautiful piercing green eyes welcomed us and showed us a table for 2. Restaurant had simple cheap wooden tables and chairs that weren’t that comfortable. We put down our heavy school backbags and waved Hi to our Colombian friend who was sitting in the next table.
Even though the restaurant did not look very classy yet the food was astonishingly delicious. There was something about the taste that makes it unique. Unlike any other Uyghur restaurants we went to, this restaurant’s food was exceptional. Was it their perfectly cooked silky noodles? Or the fresh earthy vegetables they use?
We became regular customers of that Uyghur restaurant till day we found out about their dirty little secret.

That day my brother and I were having lunch there, we both ordered a tudou mian; which is basically noodles topped with potatoes, green pepper and carrots.
As I was about to eat I looked down at my plate and noticed part of a transparent wing showing from underneath the thinly sliced carrots. I picked up the carrots with my chopsticks to look what’s underneath and saw toilet flies!!!!
I went to the restaurant manger/owner and I showed him my plate. He took it from my hands and loudly said to the chief ”Make another tudou mian”.
I went back and sat in my chair.” What’s the matter?” my brother asked. I replied ” nothing. It was just a mosquito”.
I did not want to say I found hairy short legged toilet flies laying dead in my plate. That would have been sounded a little too graphic for my brother who was still eating at that time.
Few minutes later, the waiter came with unusual amount of vegetables and noodles. It was twice the normal portion. I thought to myself maybe he is trying to apologize about the toilet flies and wanted to make it up by doubling the portion of the food.
He handed me the chopsticks and just before I even start eating a poor cockroach was trying to escape from the hot noodles! And was trying to climb up my chopsticks!!
I panicked and I jumped out of my chair. The waiter took my chopsticks immediately flipped them upside down, picked up the cockroach by MY CHOPSITCKS, killed that poor creature and gave me back my chopsticks and said to me problem solved.
My brother saw who was eating at that time could not swallow down the food that was already in his mouth. He was about to throw up. He was putting one hand over his mouth and I can tell from his body language that he was trying to tell us to stop talking about the toilet flies and cockroaches because he was about to throw up.
Instead of apologizing about what happened, the manger tried to convince me to eat that meal since they killed the cockroach and that the cockroach was not a big deal!
I was not shocked how the manger dealt with this matter. After all, many Chinese people eat insects. We left without paying for the 2 meals of toilet flies and cockroaches that they served me. But we paid for my brother’s meal because unfortunately he ate most of it.
I cannot go back to school. I am not feeling well, I want to go back home I said to my brother. I had a severe unbearable stomach ache, I could hardly stand straight. I got into the bus and I unbuttoned my shirt because I could not breathe easily, I was nauseated and I felt like I was going to throw up at anytime!

I was sick for 3 days and I stopped eating noodles for a while after that horrible incident. I never went to the hospital because it was all psychological. I knew there was no way I could get a food posing because I did not eat a single bite. I saw the toilet flies and the cockroach before I started eating. But just seeing those insects in my plate made me really ill for couple of days!
Later that day my brother told me I knew you were lying when you said it was just a mosquito. I could tell from your facial expressions that you have seen a more disgusting and filthier insect.

Traveling to China tips


Planning to go to China to study, work or do a business? If yes then you must read traveling to china tips.I have tried to write about essential  and most important things you need to know before coming to China to stay for a year or more.   So here are my tips…


1-Learn Chinese for basic communication before coming to China.

If your Chinese is nil, I suggest you learn basic Chinese, words enough to get you to and to ask people in the airport about gates and terminals and get to the hotel etc. Most Chinese people don’t speak English, and when you ask a person if he/she speaks English they will say a little, but in fact its a lot less than ” a little”. Younger generations though has just started learning English as a second language, they often can help more than the information personals who works at the airport.

If you are using iphone you will find many applications that can help you learn Chinese, download them.


2-Bring some of your favorite food from your home country.

I meant your favorite tea bags, coffee, creamy cheese, rice  or even your favorite cereals. Although there are many international supermarkets in China yet some products are very difficult to find here. If you prefer a certain type of cereal, rice or pasta then bring it along with you, because you might not find here. The availability of famous international supermarket depends on where you’re staying, if you are staying in Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou it’s going to be a lot easier.


3-Open Bank account in Chinese Bank.

In China, if you are holding Bank of China card and you used bank of Communication ATM  to take out some money, you will be charged small fee for every single transaction. Therefore, I suggest you  open at least two different bank accounts. Let’s say Bank of Communication ATM is closest ATM to your place then open an account in Bank of Communication, so when you do any transaction you will not be charged. Fore major transactions I suggest using Bank of China.


4-Be careful when making a deal with a Chinese person.

If you are buying a car or renting a house from a Chinese man or doing any deal, be careful. Chinese can be very wicked, liar and greedy specially when dealing with foreigners. They know you don’t speak their language and that makes them happy because they can steal your money easily.  I suggest you get help from someone who speaks Chinese, write everything in contract and make sure that you have deadlines and punishments in case one of the parties has done what he/she suppose to do within the time frame.

In case you are buying a products examine each and every single thing you buy carefully and ask for warranty.

This is what I did with the help of friends who speaks Chinese and also a Chinese man who read and understand Chinese characters.



5-Renew your visa and do the accommodation registration as soon as possible.

Once you move in to your new apartment you must go to the nearest police station to do the accommodation registration. Accommodation registration form will be given to you upon your arrival in china by the university or the company your working at.

You will need many 4*6 photos and you must use black pen when filling the form.

You must renew your visa as soon as possible as well, because if you don’t you will be charged with 500 Yuan every single day.  So lets say you are 5 days week, that means you will pay 2500 Yuan.




6-Remember the golden rule; if it barks don’t eat it.

In China dog’s meat is legal and it’s socially acceptable because Chinese believe that dog’s meat and liver has special pharmaceutical properties. Be careful when eating outdoors specially when eating in fancy restaurants. Dog meat is quite expensive. Therefore, it is uncommon to be served in small cheap restaurant but mainly its served in big and more expensive ones.


Note for Muslims: Muslim Halal food is easy to find in almost anywhere in china. But be careful, Muslim restaurants are not so halal. Some restaurants might hang pictures of Quran verses or Arabic welcome phrases on their wall but they still sell pork and alcoholic drinks. I suggest you go to restaurants that are famous, popular among Muslims who are living in your area. It’s much safer.


             7-Always bargain.

 Chinese people believe that foreigners are rich and for that reason they will always  charge you a lot more than the actual price of almost everything. Therefore, I recommend bargaining before buying anything, and trust me you will be able to decrease up to 50%.

Oh and by the way, just because you see that everything has a price tag in the shop it does not mean its fixed price unless you are shopping in a supermarket.


8-Find out about buses near your home, workplace and shopping areas.

There is a lot of buses with different numbers, find which one goes to your work, college or shopping areas write it down and find which one take you back to your home. Its easy to find out because there are always signs next to bus stations telling you which bus is heading where. If you couldn’t understand, ask a local Chinese person. If you want to use a taxi then you must have your address written in Chinese characters. If you know your way to work, college of home very well you can just buy a bike.



That’s it for now.  If you have any questions please contact me or write your question down here. I will try to answer you as soon as possible.