An egyptian living abroad in germany
I met Mohamed El-Tabbakh in Alexandria, Egypt when I studied Arabic there on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship in 2010. He became my closest friend and Egyptian big brother and helped me to safety during the Egyptian Revolution.
I have chosen him as an “Inspiring Person I Know” because his life has changed a lot – he left Egypt and is now living in Germany – but he continues to be a great friend, good person and hard worker. While he has faced a lot of challenges in his life, he always rises above them and inspires me to do the same.
Mohamed left Egypt on the 29th of September, 2012. He’s been living in Germany for almost 4.5 years and is beginning to like it more each day. While now he likes German organization, when he first arrived everything seemed “too strict.” Egyptian culture is probably the complete opposite to German culture in this way. However, as Mohamed became more integrated into society, he has started to see how brilliant it is.
The most difficult thing for him when he first came to Germany was surviving financially. In Egypt, the average monthly salary is around 200 euros, while in Germany the cost of living is closer to 600 or 700 euros. Most of Mohamed’s close friends are also living abroad, in Europe or other Middle Eastern countries, which has become a common trend among young Egyptians.
Mohamed is only able to visit Egypt once every year and a half. And his visits only last two weeks maximum. He greatly misses his mother and girlfriend who are in Egypt, as well as Egyptian food. “Still nothing has replaced the Egyptian food.”
When I lived in Egypt, Mohamed would drive me around in his car, music blasting and him singing along to the songs. Music is a big part of his life. Mohamed’s love for music started when he was 14 years old. He began not only listening to music, but “listening to learn” music. He would listen to composers like Yanni and analyze what he listened to. Around this time he also started to play the keyboard, without any formal lessons, and would play any melody that he heard.
Several years later he started to write Egyptian songs with a few of his friends, and then he began to write songs for weddings. His first professional song was an ad for Lipton. For many years Mohamed had wanted to learn to play the guitar, but it wasn’t until his 28th birthday when one of his friends got him a guitar that he was able to start. He used YouTube to teach himself and continues to learn.
“Music helped me in many ways, as it always does. It helped me to keep connected to my country. It helped at many hard times just by listening to my favorite music. It helped me focus and concentrate, and after learning how to play the guitar, that was another level. It also helped me connect to and get to know another people.”
Mohamed likes rock music (I like to call it “crap rock”) and his current favorite bands include Coldplay and Keane, including lead singer Tom Chaplin. He also like the Egyptian artist Amr Diab and some of the new underground music groups in Egypt.
While he doesn’t have any official professional music yet, some of Mohamed’s covers can be found through his Instagram account “Tabbakheeno”.
What inspires you every day?
“I get inspired everyday by people’s experiences. I always try to look deeper into what people are doing and how they achieve things, and as I look deeper and deeper, I see how people can do amazing things.”
What are your goals for 2017?
“My goals for 2017 are to find a good job, get engaged (and married if possible) to my girlfriend, lose weight again (I lost 25 kgs in 2014, but now I gained some again), and continue learning the guitar.”
During my travels I’ve met some incredible people, and Mohamed El Tabbakh is one of those people that will forever be a part of my life. Living in Egypt was an exciting and challenging part of my life, but it was also a great part thanks to Tabbakh’s hospitality, generosity, humor and “crap rock.”
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