The British Library

Ali’s Story

I was born in London in 1971. I grew up, went to school and worked there for many years. My first name comes from my father’s family. He was from Saudi Arabia, but I have no memory of him. I have never been to Saudi. My surname comes from my mother. She is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the USA. Her mother’s family have been “Americans” from British colonial times. They are thought to be of Scottish, Irish, Dutch and German descent. Her father’s family originated from Slovakia and Hungry. This is where the surname comes from.

Visually, I look as though I come from Southern Europe or North Africa. My name makes people think I am from a Muslim family and heritage. Funnily enough, my blonde, blue-eyed wife is English but was born in Bahrain. No one asks her where she’s from. Our children look like a mix of us both. They are beautiful. We have relatives in Thailand, China, Europe and the USA. We have lived, worked and studied all over the world.

-Ali, Guildford

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