(MENAFN - Arab News) Syrian expatriate Hesham, 42, and his wife Hala dread to switch on the television or read newspapers these days. They are nervous and worried that they might hear bad news involving their near and dear ones in the besieged Syrian town of Aleppo.
Such is their dread of the Syrian regime that they insist on not mentioning their family names for fear of exposing their relatives back home to its brutalities.
"You have to be to a Syrian to understand what it is like to be in Syria under a dictator called Bashar Assad," says Hesham. "Assad's men are blood-thirsty animals; they have no qualms in killing people. Please ask the survivors of Homs and Al-Hola."
Hala, who is a teacher by profession, says her mother and one brother are in Aleppo. Another brother was in Damascus. "I spoke to my mother 10 days ago. She kept crying throughout the conversation. She mentioned my brother Mustafa again and again," she said. Mustafa joined the fighters in Damascus and is believed to have died fighting forces loyal to the regime.
Hesham consoles his wife as she sobs uncontrollably. "Things are very bad out there. Men, women and children are fleeing the cities. They don't have any permanent address now, and we are not even able to wire money to our families. There is a total breakdown, and there is fear everywhere. All we can do is pray for the martyrs and the fighters who are trying to liberate our country from this dictator," he said.
Like Hesham, another 32-year-old Syrian who works as an advertisement executive in Jeddah requests his name not to be mentioned. "You can just refer to me as Abu Mohammad," he tells Arab News by telephone. "My maternal grandparents are in Aleppo, and I am seriously worried for them. We just want to see this regime go; Assad is a dictator."
Thirty-eight-year-old Dammam-based Murhaf Al-Saeed has no fear of giving his full name. His wife and two children are constantly praying for the well-being of their family members in Damascus.
"Our country's future is not clear," he says. "My father and brother are in Damascus. So far, they are OK, but they are living on an edge. I am trying to get my father into Saudi Arabia through a visit visa. Inshallah, I will get him here."
According to Al-Saeed, there are nearly 400,000 Syrian expatriates in the Kingdom. "Most of them are in Riyadh, followed by Jeddah and Dammam," he says.
Most of the Syrians in Saudi Arabia work in the construction industry. "Syria is known for its good construction material, especially for interior and exterior decoration. Our men are experts in interior decoration and are in high demand in Saudi Arabia," says Al-Saeed.
"Whenever we meet a Syrian these days, we discuss the situation in our homeland and get nervous about the killings of our brothers. The least we can do is to pray for the martyrs and the mujahedeen."