In this interview Mohammad Nabeel Abushaaban, a young Palestinian who arrived in Scotland in 1997, tells Cosmopolita Scotland about his new business, Munch Together, an online l platform designed to allow people to eat homemade food at local homes around the world. Its ultimate goal is to celebrate interculturality and cultural differences.
Mohammad arrived in Edinburgh from Gaza (Palestine) with his family when he was a 9-year-old boy, in 1997. Now, he has become a young father to a 5-year old Zainedine. After his studies, a BSc in Web Technologies and a Master of Business, and different work experiences, the young entrepreneur embraces a new adventure, Munch Together, a community to promote interculturality through people eating homemade meals at local homes. Mohammad tells Cosmopolita Scotland the reasons behind this business and how it works.
Cosmopolita Scotland – In a nutshell, could you tell us what is Munch Together and how it works?
Mohammad – Munch Together is a very easy and straightforward way to put people together through sharing meals at their homes. The host only needs to open an account in our website (www.munchtogether.com and create a Munch! The host needs to be an individual (not a business) and cooking a homemade meal (not a ready meal from local supermarket!).
They set the price for the guest, the guest signs up to the Munch, pays, and the money goes into the account of the host. Munch Together takes a small cut. The host and the guest can review each other and it is a safe environment. Happy days! I want people to explore different cultures in their city & around the world.
“ I want people to explore different cultures in their city and around the world”
C.S.- How many Munches have you had so far?
Mohammad – Munch Together aims to be a global business, and is based in Edinburgh. Our first Munch was in Germany, in Frankfurt. It went really well. I made sure I was there to learn more about the user experience and get feedback from the host/guests. We had two Germans, an American, and a Palestinian (me!).
We had a second Munch (first one in Edinburgh about a month later and Viktoria (the host of the Munch in Frankfurt) came to it!
We’ve had 6 Munches since then. People often cook simple food at an affordable price. The aim is to talk and meet each other and get to know a little bit more of each other’s culture, share stories and local knowledge.
C.S. –As someone who moved to a new country , why is interculturality is so important for you?
Mohammad – I arrived in Scotland from Gaza with my family when I was 9 years old. The first years we were not integrated at all. At the beginning it took us a while to understand Scotland and her people. It was a gradual process. Now I feel integrated in different communities in Edinburgh due to my wide network. I’ve always been really pro-active about meeting and getting to know new people from different walks for life. Saying that, not a lot of people have different friends from different communities and backgrounds and I want to change this through Munch Together. I see the communities here in Edinburgh as islands and there is no real connectivity between them (for various reasons). Munch Together will be the bridge that brings them together.
Mohammad- Well, I think these barriers are related to stereotypes, and it is easy to stick to them if you don’t mingle. Take me for example. Me being a Palestinian, I grew up disliking Israelis. The society & context in which I grew up in conditioned me. However, the funny thing is that I’ve never met an Israeli in my life! I’ve never had the opportunity or the space to sit and chat with an Israeli. Imagine how cool it would be if I was able to go into an Israeli’s home, sit around a table and share a meal with them. How barriers would be broken and new positive mentalities created. Sharing a meal in one’s home is one of the most personal things to do in life!
“Sharing a meal in one’s home is one of the most personal things to do in life!”
C.S.- Is this common intercultural place what motivated Munch Together?
Mohammad- Yes, in fact part of this story started in Spain!
C.S.- What happened in Spain?
Mohammad- Last year, I was on holiday in Granada and I used Airbnb. My host, Juan, gave us a lot of valuable information about where to visit. But we didn’t ask him for places where to eat and unluckily, we ended up eating badly in touristy restaurants. Then I though if I could go to a place like Juan’s to eat it would be much better. I would be able to try home made food, but most importantly I will get to know people through food and travel…
“I want to be remembered for solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict through business”
CS- Did you visit any other country that inspired your project?
Mohammad- Yes, just recently I attended the Power of Youth (POY) India Summit in Bangalore, India. POY is an Edinburgh based business that is creating a network of purpose driven entrepreneurs around the world who are making the world a better place through business. The summit was focused on the entrepreneur, not the business. Focusing on personal development, emotional resilience and clarifying one’s purpose and vision. I remember one question I was asked by a fellow entrepreneur – “what do you want to be remembered for?” I answered “I want to be remembered for solving the Israeli -Palestinian conflict through business”
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Not Your Usual Spanish Dinner
Would you like to try some Spanish home made food? Do you want to learn more about the diversity of the Spanish culture? Are you interested in gender issues and immigration? Cosmopolita Scotland‘s team will host a dinner next 18th March in Edinburgh to talk about interculturality and gender for our upcoming Special Issue on Gender. The money will contribute to Cosmopolita Scotand‘s project.
Contact Mohammad and find out more about Munch Together
Website – www.munchtogether.com
Twitter – @m_abu5 & @munchtogether_
Facebook – Mohammad Nabeel Abushaaban & Munch Together
Instagram – munchtogether