Mohanad came to China in 2000, where he worked at his uncle's restaurant in Guangzhou. There he soon got acquainted with Liu Fang, a lady from Anhui Province of China. In spite of their different nationalities and cultural backgrounds, the two young people shared a lot of interests. They immediately fell in love and got married in 2001.
Later on, a friend told Mohanad that many foreign people do business in Yiwu, where great business opportunities lie. So Mohanad considered moving to Yiwu. In 2002, he borrowed some money and opened a restaurant in the city. “The entrepreneurial environment varies in different places, but the business climate in Yiwu is truly amicable, and people here are very friendly to foreigners, so we enjoy running a business here,” Mohanad said.
Mohanad's restaurant mainly served Jordanian dishes at first, then according to the appetite of customers, Mohanad also added various dishes with different flavors of other Arabic states to the menu. He is very fond of Chinese cuisine as well, such as chicken chunks and braised fish.
Sixteen years have passed since Mohanad first came to Yiwu, and now he has two children. Despite never having studied in a Chinese language school, Mohanad can speak Chinese fluently. Mohanad feels life in Yiwu is happy and meaningful. He said he likes Yiwu and will continue to live there. “I spend more time here than in Jordan. China has become my homeland. No matter where I came from, I live here now. This is my country.” Mohanad said.
On June 5, 2014, Chinese President Xi mentioned Mohanad's story while addressing the Opening Ceremony of the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. President Xi said, “In Yiwu where lots of Arabs do business, a Jordanian businessman called Mohanad is running an authentic Arab-style restaurant. He has not only introduced Arabic cuisine to Yiwu, but has also made a successful career from it. He married a Chinese lady and settled down in China. Being an ordinary person from an Arabic state, he has blended his own dream with the Chinese dream of pursuing happiness. He has not only managed to lead a brilliant life with his constant efforts, but also demonstrated perfect combination of the Chinese dream and the dream of Arabs”.
Over the past decades, China has made great strides in economic growth, which has attracted many foreigners. As a matter of fact, there are lots of foreign people living in Yiwu, just as Mohanad do. Many of them even settled down there. While harvesting a happy life and successful career, these foreign people have also contributed a lot to trade ties, cultural exchanges and people-to-people links between China and Arabic states. They are often called “New Yiwu Citizens”. Today, more than 13,000 international merchants from over 100 countries reside in Yiwu – a city known for commodity trade.