After fleeing Syria, man starts successful cheese business

Trier, Germany: Abdul Saymoa’s migrant success story is a bit cheesy: After coming to Germany four years ago from Syria, he now owns a flourishing business that makes the cheeses of his homeland.
“Since summer, we’ve had the first Syrian cheese farm in Germany,” said the 26-year-old. The Cham Saar cheese farm now processes 1,000 litres of milk a day to make 180 to 200 kilogrammes of various cheeses.
“I could make 5,000 kilogrammes of cheese a day, and it would be bought up immediately,” declared Saymoa, who had missed Syrian cheeses so much that he decided to begin making them himself.
His main customers are Arab or Turkish businesses or wholesalers in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
“I have one wholesaler in [the central German state of] Hesse who said: ‘Give what you can, I’ll take everything,’” Saymoa said.
Some of the cheeses he sells include chalali, a soft cheese with a spaghetti-like consistency, and baladia, a cubed soft cheese that’s a mix of feta and halloumi.
Saymoa was helped in his business endeavours in western Illingen by the Riehm family, from whom he bought his milk.
After chatting with him about why he was buying 30 to 40 litres of milk every few days, the idea of starting a business popped up. “I was excited from the get-go. The idea itself was awesome because there was nothing like it at the time,” said Anna Riehm, who runs the cheese farm with Saymoa.
Saymoa, a father of two, took a boat from Egypt to Italy after fleeing Syria in 2014 with his wife, his sister-in-law and their children.
“We were on the boat 14 days,” he said. Then he went on to Germany and eventually Illingen, near the city of Saarbruecken. — DPA