Why a Syrian couple is so enthusiastic about Mainz.

In the beginning, the people of Rhineland-Palatinate helped Mais Al Ghafir and Ahmad Alhalabi a lot. Today, the pharmacist and the surgeon themselves help many people in Rheinhessen every day – and truly feel at home here.

In Mainz, people help one another. Ahmad Alhalabi already experienced this during his time as a surgical resident in Beirut. “A friend of mine is a doctor in Mainz and recommended that I come to Rhineland-Palatinate,” the 30-year-old says. This friend helped him to apply for a visa for Germany. After a seven-week language course in Mainz and a visiting physician residency lasting three months, he passed the specialist language test of the Medical Chamber. After that, he began work as a surgical resident in Bingen. He has lived in Mainz since 2020.


“I came to Mainz out of love because Ahmad was here,” says Mais Al Ghafir. She arrived a year later. In Mainz, she passed the specialist language test at the Chamber of Pharmacists, then worked in a pharmacy and prepared for the knowledge test. One year later, the pharmacist obtained her license to practice in Germany.


The pair relied on resources such as the information portal make-it-in.rlp.de, counseling centers sponsored by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and public authorities. “The employees always tried to find a solution,” says Alhalabi. “I thought that was great.” His wife adds: “Our documents were processed very quickly. That was good, as I was eager to begin working immediately after completing my studies and had no time to waste.”


“Coming to Mainz was definitely the best decision for us.”

Mais Al Ghafir


In their free time, the two like to enjoy the finer things in life, which are abundant in Mainz and its vicinity. They often go on hiking expeditions along the scenic Rhine and love to stroll through the historic district. “Coming to Mainz was definitely the best decision for us,” says Al Ghafir. The couple has a special appreciation for the people in Rhineland-Palatinate and their mindset. Al Ghafir also has a favorite word that she associates with this mentality: “Gemorje! People always say that when they come into the pharmacy, and I think it’s nice. It means not only ‘good morning’ but also ‘I’m having a good day’ and ‘I hope you’ll have a good day too!’”


Al Ghafir and Alhalabi were warmly welcomed in Mainz, both at the pharmacy and the hospital. Alhalabi says: “I never felt like a stranger. I could ask my boss and the team anything, not just questions relating to medical care. I am very grateful for that.” They have shared their enthusiasm for their new home with their friends, Alhalabi reports. “I recommended to several of my friends to come work at the hospital. And now they, too, are employed there.” This is how the willingness to lend a helping hand is lived – even by those who have not been in Rhineland-Palatinate for long.


About the people

Mais Al Ghafir

  • Born in Syria in 1997
  • She completed her bachelor’s of pharmacy from the University of Damascus.
  • In 2022, she obtained her German pharmacy license by state examination.
  • Today, she works in the pharmaceutical industry.

Ahmad Alhalabi

  • Born in Syria in 1993
  • He studied medicine in Damascus.
  • From 2017 to 2019, he worked as a surgical resident in Damascus.
  • He completed a residency at the Asklepios Klinikum in Seesen in 2020.
  • Alhalabi has been a surgical resident in general and visceral surgery at Marienhaus Heilig-Geist-Hospital in Bingen since 2021.