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Middle Easterners move to Beckley for husbands' career opportunites

Local - 5/8/2013 6:35 PM by Karen Franklin
BECKLEY - Sawsan Galal and Roda Haddadin have been friends for years. The pair is from the Middle East, and both settled in Beckley for their husbands' careers.



"He was very well known for his job, and he enjoyed the community," Galal said about her late husband. "He liked the small town atmosphere."

Galal and Haddadin have spent most of their lives in the United States -- one in Massachusetts and the other in Oregon. Both enjoy the hometown feeling in southern West Virginia.

"West Virginia made you feel welcome, and I like that because that's how we were raised," Galal told WOAY. "You know, hospitality is very important, so when you have hospitable people, it makes you feel comfortable being that way too."

Haddadin has two young children.

"It's a great place to raise kids," she said. "How you know everybody -- you kind of get to know everybody in the community. We really enjoy that for us and for the children."

Haddadin is a Jordanian Christian. She's raising her two children to respect all cultures.

"I'm very proud of both countries and both cultures," Haddadin said. "In fact, I'm really excited for my children to explore different cultures -- not just Jordan."

Galal agrees.

"You don't want to be too much outside because we are in America, and we live an American life, and we're very greatful for all God had to offer us from here and our countries," she said.

Galal is a Muslim from Egypt. The women meet others from the Middle East and bond over their shared culture.

"The community was very important to us," Galal said. "We have friends here from all over the Middle East, and it's very nice to have people from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. It's nice to have the community for us."

The shared Arabic language, family and native food play a big role in Middle Eastern culture.

"Our house was always open to people, and the meal is the most important thing," Galal said. "That's how you show your friendship to people, and in our culture, really when you have eaten together, it sort of binds you with that person."

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