When he left the besieged Gaza Strip to look for better opportunities, 36-year-old Palestinian immigrant Hamza Dahlas did not know that he would fall in love with a Swedish woman, who is almost the age of his grandmother.
Swedish TV described the complications around this incident as a "bizarre love story" between a Palestinian refugee and the Swedish millionaire, 79-year-old Ola Saimnson.
According to Al-Wattan Voice – which translated the story – the age difference between them was just one of the reasons that pushed them to hide their relationship, which started in 2015. Another reason was the fear of racism, as well as the fear of being deported by the Swedish authorities which would end their love story forever.
Hamza met Ola – who had been leading a quiet life as a widow – for the first time in April 2015. Ola, who was a teacher, volunteered to teach Swedish in Kungsmarkskyrkan for new immigrants in order to break her isolation after the death of her husband.
"When I saw Hamza for the first time, I knew that I would never leave him and I would stick with him," she said, stating that he is "quiet and philosophic". She continued: "I though of helping him to remain in Sweden and to let him get engaged to a lady of his age. But, through time, we became closer."
See: Love is in the air
Hamza, who arrived in Sweden on October 2014, said: "I wanted to learn Swedish because I wanted to study. Without language, one can achieve anything."
On 21 April 2015, Hamza travelled from the southern city of Malmo to Karlskrona to visit one of his friends. Then, he went to Kungsmarkskyrkan and met Ola in the first lesson.
After staying in the new city, he asked to meet Ola and the meetings continued until there was a deep relationship and love between them. The two lovers fought a fierce battle with the Swedish authorities for more than three years in order to marry each other. Hamza does not have a Palestinian passport so that he cannot complete his marriage, but they won the battle in the end.
"We come from different cultures," Ola said: "The age difference is wide, however, we love each other." She added: "Since we became lovers, we have not spent a single day apart from each other."
For his part, Hamza says: "It is difficult to see society accept the idea that we are real lovers."
The Swedish authorities tested their love when he was asked to recognise in the marriage contract that he would not share her wealth in case of divorce. Now, the couple have booked an appointment in a church to announce their marriage. "One day, we will stand under the roof of a church as spouses," Ola says, wondering: "Why do the Swedish authorities prevent two old people to continue their internal desires?"
This article wrongly listed Ola Saimnson as being a Swiss national, this was correct on 19 February 2019 at 14:37 to Swedish.