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From one refugee to another, from Daraa to Madrid: A Syrian-founded magazine spotlights the migrant experience

From one refugee to another, from Daraa to Madrid: A Syrian-founded magazine spotlights the migrant experience

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Life Freedom of Expression Diversity Arab Migrants

Friday 16 February 202407:54 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

من درعا إلى مدريد... سوريون يطلقون مجلة من اللاجئين وإليهم


Four Syrian journalists, Ayham, Moussa, Mohammed, and Akaba, fled war, destruction and bloodshed, to move to Madrid where they founded Baynana, the first Spain-based media outlet to publish content in both Arabic and Spanish. Theirs was a difficult journey, escaping the deadly violence in their hometown of Daraa. In 2019, with the assistance of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the four Syrians left their homeland, forced to leave behind their families and loved ones. They arrived in Spain, a country they had never before visited and were met with a language barrier which forced them to learn Spanish fast.

In 2019, with the assistance of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the four Syrians left Syria, forced to leave behind their families and loved ones. They arrived in Spain, a new country they had never been in before.

The Spanish bureaucracy, the language barrier, the difficulty in accessing important information for immigrants, or even understanding and following news in the Spanish environment in their language, prompted the four Syrians to launch a digital magazine publishing content in both Arabic and Spanish. This had never been done before in Spain. The magazine raises awareness and delivers social services to Arab immigrants, while highlighting immigrants’ issues and stories to a Spanish audience.

A session with the Baynana magazine team in the Spanish capital, Madrid


While at the Baynana headquarters, co-founder Ayham Al-Sati shared, “The beginning was very difficult for us. Finding yourself a refugee all of a sudden, facing prejudices and prejudgments about refugees in Europe, and sometimes receiving condescending looks and occasional racism. This led us to think about creating a platform that provides media services for refugees to facilitate their integration process and provide important information in Arabic. From there, the idea evolved gradually until Baynana became a reference for information and news for immigrants in Spain in both the Arabic and Spanish languages.”

"Finding yourself a refugee all of a sudden, facing prejudice about refugees in Europe, and sometimes receiving condescending looks and racism made us think about creating a platform to provide media services for refugees to provide important information in Arabic”

Mohammed Subat, another of the magazine’s founders, explained, “The idea of Baynana started from scratch as a volunteer project with our own simple equipment, with the challenge of working in a language we hadn’t fully mastered. This increased our determination to change the stereotypical image of refugees and the widespread idea that refugees come to Europe seeking aid and financial support. As Syrians, we have a lot to give and share with the world. There are success stories and Syrian talents that just needed an opportunity, since opportunities are scarce in our country, and through Baynana, we wanted to emphasize that we will carry on even though we are outside our country, which is still present in our hearts. The success of any Syrian is a success for us all.”

Journalists from the Middle East cover the region with a hugely different perspective to their Spanish counterparts.

The launch of Baynana, the first magazine of its kind in Spain, garnered significant attention in local circles due to the originality of the idea and the courage of its founding journalists. Spain previously lacked an Arabic-language media platform and ignores the Arab world despite its geographical and cultural proximity to the region. Spain’s nearest Arab neighbor, Morocco, is only 14 kilometers away.

Baynana is by refugees for refugees and migrants, and builds bridges between Arabs and Spaniards. Immigration is a right for every human being, and migrants are an added value to the societies that receive them.

Ayham believes that the stories of migrants are not limited to traditional successes. Arriving in a new country, learning the language, integrating into a new culture, and trying to survive and carry on, is a success in itself which should be recognized and documented to the Spanish audience in order to convey the migrants’ reality and the reality of asylum.

A session with the Baynana magazine team in the Spanish capital, Madrid


When asked about the reason for choosing the name Baynana ('Between Us' – 'بيننا' in Arabic), co-founder Moussa Al Jamaat said, “The choice of the name came from the idea of representing all of us, without exception. The magazine is a voice for all migrants from different parts of the world, a voice for them and about them. We work to provide necessary information for migrants as a reference while conveying their suffering and problems to Spanish audiences. We also aim to change negative perceptions about us, such as the stereotyped image of women from our countries and other ideas.”

Okba Mohammad, who started his career in journalism at the age of 17, added, “ Baynana aims to bridge Arab and Spanish culture. There are many common denominators that we want to work on highlighting.”

“The name Baynana came from the idea of representing all of us, without exception. The magazine is a voice for all migrants from different parts of the world, a voice for them and about them.”

Baynana does not abandon Middle Eastern issues, with the team regularly producing articles and investigations about developments in the region, thus providing Spanish audiences with a different perspective. Naturally, journalists from the Middle East cover the region with a hugely different perspective to their Spanish counterparts. Moreover, Baynana has conducted a series of investigations into stories of migrants and their journeys from Libya to Greece, accompanying them on their at times perilous, or even fatal, journeys to safety.

Borders and differences will not cease to exist, and the nightmare of 'death boats' filled with people in search of a better life continues. Migrants die in the most tragic ways, burdened by the pains of life, manipulated by politicians, human traffickers, and dreams of a better future. This is why the Baynana team continues to shed light on migrants and the issues they face; There are hundreds of stories – these refugees are not mere numbers.

“Immigration should be a natural and guaranteed right for every human being, and the West is not some paradise. Life is not easy here.”

As a result of their continuous efforts, the Baynana team recently won the award for the best investigation in collaboration with the Spanish magazine Revista5W. The award was received for a journalistic investigation into human trafficking networks in Libya, uncovering the stories of death boats and floating corpses. Despite their determination, Baynana, which was started through crowdfunding, faces financial hardship due to a lack of support which threatens its future.

According to Ayham, “Immigration should indeed be a natural and guaranteed right for every human being, and the West is not some paradise. Life is not easy here.” Moussa concluded, “Follow your dreams, for the dream is worth it.”

The Baynana magazine team in Spain



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