Taffan and Ali

11139884_423150344520457_1623523854_nHow we met: Ali and I met at a refugee camp in Kurdistan assisting Syrian and Kurdish refugees. I was asked by an organisation in Kurdistan, Iraq to get in touch with numerous doctors and nurses in Sweden that could pay a visit to the camps and help us assist refugees affected by ISIS. Ali was one of the doctors on the list that I had to email and invite to Kurdistan. Little did I know that that one email would lead to him dropping down on one knee and popping the question 6 months later.I knew he was very special from the moment our eyes first caught each other at the camp – even though we were not given the opportunity to speak to each other. Seeing him work in the same field as me and sharing my passion in doing humanitarian work was something exceptional, and I found him extremely attractive for this reason. I was attending a conference in Dublin just a few days after we met and he flew back to Sweden as well so, seeing each other was not on my to-do list. On the last day of the conference in Dublin, I got all dressed up for our closing ceremony and dinner and as I walked down the stairs to my hotel lobby he was standing there. He blew me away by being there; he had traveled all that way just to see me for 2 hours and later fly back to Sweden in order to be at work at 8 in the morning. I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with him once I saw the effort he put in just to see me for such a short time.

10805700_355274217974737_4095178424495071535_n

11137002_423152604520231_1874239714_n

How He Asked: In our native Kurdish culture, the normal (and necessary) thing to do when wanting to get married is to, firstly, ask for the girls hand in marriage from her parents and then eventually asking her uncles, relatives grandfather etc. Once permission is given, the couple exchange rings and are engaged. In other words, the Western style of proposing doesn’t usually take place. However, I’ve always dreamed of getting a proposal from the man I love. Knowing my culture and upbringing, I wasn’t expecting to get that type of proposal. But, all that changed on 29th May 2015. After going through the traditional Kurdish process of proposing, Ali gathered all my loved ones for a special dinner. Knowing that I am in the media world a lot and a freelance journalist, Ali knew which journalists and TV presenters inspired me the most. Lisa Daftari, a Fox News contributor and political analyst, had interviewed me months earlier for my efforts and work at the camps. Ali knew that she was one of my favourite female TV presenters. During dinner at the beautiful rooftop at Lalezar Hotel, I noticed that they had turned down the lights and it got rather quiet in the restaurant. Let me add that everyone knew what was going to happen except for the bride-to-be.

154574_786195534802628_6695350824168681804_n (1)
10451719_786198291469019_5838141569356400419_n

Ali rose from his seat and asked me if I had seen Lisa Daftari’s latest news segment on the situation in Yemen, to which I replied ‘no’ and, of course, he offered to show me. I focused on the screen that Ali had placed in front of me as Lisa appeared and presented some news on the situation in Yemen. Everyone around me began to get up, looking at me with smiles and recording me with cameras – at this point, I still didn’t quite understand what was going on. Lisa suddenly shifted onto another topic in the middle of reading the news – me. She spoke of the ‘incredible guy in my life’, how he we were soul mates, and introduced me to my ‘future.’ She ended the video by saying ” Ali only has one question to ask you’…’ and then, of course, I knew. He was going to make it happen for me, I was going to get my dream proposal in spite of culture, ethnicity and traditions. He was going to make it happen just for me, for my happiness. As Lisa finished her last sentence, Ali turned towards me, got down on one knee, reminded me of his love for me, and asked me to marry him.

1520630_786198421469006_6584823043645538807_n

I had never felt so special in my entire life and knowing that it was a first in Kurdistan made it all the more extraordinary. Never in a million years would I have dreamt of getting such magical night.