Before the conflict, Tarek Sweedan was a successful singer in his native Syria, touring the Arab world with his band ‘The Dream’. But after 2011, as violence engulfed the country, Tarek decided to stop singing “out of respect for the dead”.
In February 2013, after fleeing fighting in their hometown of Al-Sanamayn in the south of the country during a snowstorm, he and his family arrived in Alexandria in Egypt as refugees. There, 34-year-old Tarek volunteered as a music teacher, offering classes to Syrian and Sudanese refugees and local pupils alike.
Once settled, he discovered that several of his former bandmates were also living in the country as refugees, and soon ‘The Dream’ was reborn. With help from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the band has produced several new albums, and regularly perform in Alexandria and the capital, Cairo.
Thanks to his talent and determination, Tarek is rebuilding his life in exile, but he still longs for home. His songs are laced with lyrics expressing the anguish he feels at being separated from his homeland. “I see my dreams in a song,” he explains. “Art is all that’s left for us”.