Watch: Dog trainer from Syria rebuilds his life in Malta

Nawras is a hardworking dog trainer in Malta, dedicating his time to improving the behaviour of some of the country’s most lovable pets.

Nawras and Figeac, during a dog training session in Malta.
© UNHCR/Rahma Henchiri

Loyalty, sensitivity… these are just two reasons why Nawras loves dogs. A Syrian refugee who fled his war-torn city in 2012, Nawras is now a hardworking dog trainer in Malta, dedicating his time to improving the behaviour of some of the country’s most lovable pets. With a passion for the outdoors and a lot of ambition, Nawras is rebuilding his life and finally feels at home. In a new video by UNHCR, Nawras speaks about how his work has helped him feel part of society.



Why are dogs a man's best friend?

Woof ?

Gepostet von UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency am Montag, 18. März 2019



Mhd Nouras Shbik, known as Nawras, is a 34-year-old Syrian refugee with subsidiary protection in Malta. Nawras learnt to train dogs when he was a young man growing up in Damascus, but his life suddenly changed in 2012 when conflict in Syria escalated. Nawras had no choice but to flee his war-torn city and embark on a dangerous journey to safety.

Nawras found protection and a new life in Malta, and he is using his dog training skills to make a living. This fun and satisfying job ensures financial stability and makes him feel more part of society, as he is contributing to the country and providing a great service to his many clients, both animal and human.

“The most rewarding part of my job is finding the last result. And seeing the dog become with good behavior. Helpful, playful.”


Nawras has many ambitions. One day he might like to open a dog training school. Nawras also enjoys hiking with his friends, painting and gardening, and would love to have his own land where he can grow plants. With resilience and determination, he is working hard and demonstrating the variety of skills that refugees have to offer to their new community.

“The first year for me, in Malta, it was a bit challenging because I needed to learn the language and understand the norms in society, to make it easier for me to communicate in a good way with people.

Communication has become easier, and I have my own job, and I really feel I am part of the society… as a Maltese.”



Holders of Subsidiary Protection make up a large proportion of the persons of concern for UNHCR in Malta. UNHCR Malta advocates to improve the situation of beneficiaries of Subsidiary Protection, who do not receive the same rights as persons with Refugee Status. UNHCR Malta has carried out continued advocacy on access to family reunification for persons with spouses and children in other countries, on improving the pathway to citizenship and also on facilitating better access to social services.


Nawras at his home in Hal Kirkop, Malta. © UNHCR/Rahma Henchiri