Gaza Couple’s Celebration Goes Viral: “surprise beyond words”

A Gaza couple’s unusual celebration of their marriage anniversary has gone viral. Captured on video, Samah, a poet, surprised her husband Mahmoud by featuring a photo from his professional collection along words from her poetry on a billboard in Gaza City.

The couple married five years ago. They first met at a photography workshop organized by Mahmoud who has been a landscape photographer for eight years, he told Palestine Square. However, both Samah and Mahmoud were familiar with each other’s works ahead of meeting. “I would use some of her poetry to highlight my photographs,” he recalled. It wasn’t long before he proposed after they met at his workshop.

Reactions to the video have been “overwhelmingly supportive and positive,” dwarfing few detractors. “It’s like people were thirsty for something,” Mahmoud described the reaction. “It wasn’t about Samah and myself. It became a public celebration of love and commitment,” he added.

The heartwarming gesture was “a surprise beyond words,” Mahmoud said in a Facebook post that’s been viewed over 80 thousand times on his profile. Another post shared by a local news page was viewed nearly 300 thousand times. Mahmoud said Samah’s gift is a testament to her unyielding support, especially as he works tirelessly to pursue his dream of exploring new landscapes abroad. “Gaza’s landscape is difficult to work with sometimes,” he explained, particularly because there has been a stereotypical image about the city. When photographers come to the besieged enclave, they typically don’t think of landscapes, but of destruction and war instead.

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Unfortunately, because of the Israeli and Egyptian imposed closures, Mahmoud has not been able to travel, despite securing all the necessary paperwork and visas. At one point, Mahmoud lamented, “I had four visas on my passport, but all of them expired before I was able to travel through the Rafah crossing,” Gaza’s sole gateway into the world via neighboring Egyptian airports, which has been subject to prolonged closures.