Alyah Al-Jasser moved to Barcelona in 2010 to teach English after completing her degree in London. “I ended up staying for a while,” she says. “Two years later, my friend and I were looking for a flat. We looked at one that belonged to Pau’s family.” After the viewing, Pau Francia met them to “seal the deal” on the property.
There was an instant attraction between the pair, but they were soon interrupted. “As we were leaving the flat, some neighbours told us not to go downstairs,” says Alyah. “It turned out there had been a murder on the ground floor and it was a crime scene.” While they camped out in the neighbours’ home, Pau spoke to the police. “My family also owned the flat where the murder was, so I was downstairs trying to handle the situation when I realised I’d left Alyah upstairs,” he says. “I knew they had identification, as they had been about to sign on the flat, so I talked to the police about letting them go.”
Afterwards, Pau was too busy dealing with the aftermath to rent out the flat. “Alyah and I exchanged a few emails, but I had to tell her the flat was now unavailable.” He suggested going for a coffee, but they never managed to find a good time. “He asked to meet up, but I was going to Brazil for three weeks,” says Alyah. “I ended up staying for five months.” Pau texted her when she returned and they finally went for a drink in May 2013. “We got along really well and that was it,” she says.
Pau says there was a connection from the first date. “It was obvious from both sides we wanted to be together,” he says. Although they had separate plans to travel, they put these to one side and spent the next two years getting to know each other. “I am half-Scottish and half-Kuwaiti and Pau is Catalan, so we had a few cultural barriers to overcome,” says Alyah. “When I told my dad that I wanted to marry Pau, I did not get his blessing right away.” It did not take long for him to come round after he met his daughter’s partner.
The couple moved to Kuwait in February 2015 and Alyah’s family planned a spring wedding. “We had five weeks for Pau to complete his conversion to Islam and find a job and also prepare for the wedding,” Alyah says. Pau says the decision to convert was easy. “I don’t come from a religious background and her family is not very religious, but I felt it was an important gesture and would make things easier for everyone. I never gave it a second thought.”
The couple live with their cat and dog, which they brought with them from Barcelona. Alyah works in advertising, while Pau is an engineer. “We love to travel and we have done some trips to Sri Lanka, Oman and Japan,” says Alyah. “We also spend a lot of time at the beach enjoying the weather or visiting friends.” Pau says they are “always active”, keeping themselves busy with a mix of local and expat activities.
Although their personalities are very different, they want the same things in life. “On the surface, we have nothing in common,” Alyah says. “But we have matching values around life, family and work. Different interests mean we always have something to talk about.”
She says the relationship is about balance. “I am the talkative extrovert and can be impulsive. Pau helps me slow down and see the bigger picture. He encourages me to be myself and maintain my individuality.” Pau says their differences are what makes them work as a couple. “She pushes me to do things I wouldn’t usually do. We suit each other really well.”