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Dona Hariri
Photo: Visit Stockholm
Categories: Cafés

Dona Hariri – the walking link between Södermalm and the suburbs

Publish date: 19 November 2020

At the age of 3, she came to Sweden as a refugee. At the age of 31, she feels at home in two of the most diverse parts of Stockholm. Meet Dona Hariri – the lawyer and lecturer who thinks more people should discover the whole of Stockholm.

Last year, Dona Hariri was named one of the most powerful women in Sweden. Since then, she’s written a book to give people a better understanding of the Swedish law (“Fatta lagen!”). She’s been frequently seen in various TV shows and continuously given free legal advice in the Stockholm suburb Husby. Her goal: that everyone should know about their rights – no matter who you are or where you come from.

Dona herself was born in Iran by Iraqi parents who fled during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. After traveling through many countries and even being imprisoned, they arrived in Sweden when she was three years old.

For the past ten years, Dona’s been living in Stockholm but has probably seen more parts of the Swedish capital than others do during a lifetime. Although she lived in Södermalm for many years and wouldn’t trade the trendy neighborhood for anything else, the suburbs are where she really feels at home.
– I love everything outside the city center! The smell, the food, the people – everyone knows everyone – it makes me nostalgic. I’m a refugee without a legacy. I lost my home... But in the suburbs, I feel accepted and welcome. Järva, Skärholmen, Fittja, Husby, Vårberg – the suburbs of Stockholm are all different but still alike, and all of them are my home. I definitely think locals in the city center should experience the surroundings and how much they are missing out on. Many think it’s dangerous. I would say it’s inclusive.

If she was a visitor in Stockholm, with only 24 hours to discover the city, there’s no doubt what she would do.
– I would skip the shopping and go walking! It’s the best way to discover the beauty of Stockholm and to understand how the city is built upon the many islands, connected by bridges. I’d walk around Djurgården, which is a beautiful place no matter the season. If I had the time I’d jump on a boat to the archipelago. Maybe go for a swim in Vinterviken.

Dona says she’s obsessed with walking around Stockholm. She walks between Södermalm and the outskirts of Stockholm several times a week and can easily do 20 000 steps in a day. She loves to find new paths around town while listening to documentaries and enjoying the landscape.

Name one museum you can’t get enough of?
– Moderna Museet! I go there several times a month, even though it’s the same exhibitions. The architecture is impressive, the environment calm enough and they have a great restaurant for lunch or a coffee break. I go there for the experience and relaxation at the same time, and I can’t get enough of it.

What’s your favorite café for a Swedish fika?
– It depends on the season. During fall and winter, I prefer Vetekatten on Kungsgatan and Gildas rum in Södermalm. In the summertime, I love Konditori Lyran in Bredäng. It’s situated in a teeny-tiny castle right by the water – very beautiful and super cozy. Café Blockhusporten on the Djurgården island is another summer favorite.

Where should one go for the best meal in Stockholm?
– Stockholm has a great selection of food – if you know where to look. The best places are scattered around the city. For the most genuine kebab, head to Restaurang Kurdistan in Huvudsta. It’s right by the subway, the opening hours are generous and I’m constantly craving their Kurdish kebab. Jebena is a hidden gem in Rådhuset subway station, it’s like a cave. They serve the most delish Eritrean injera and you eat everything with your hands. They have plenty of space, and the staff is very friendly. Last but not least, Bistro Barbro. Their Japanese fusion food is divine! Without a doubt the restaurant I’ve been going to the most since I moved to Stockholm. I’ve celebrated birthdays here, hung with friends, and arranged reunions. My all-time favorite.

Could you recommend a place that many tourists miss?
– Multicultural Center MKC (Mångkulturellt centrum) in Fittja is an amazing place. They have multicultural exhibitions, interesting talks, and a small restaurant called Tavernan that serves organic and vegetarian seasonal food with spices and flavors from all over the world. A fantastic place to grab lunch and get a dose of culture at the same time.