Rawaz Salaye first came to the Netherlands with his family after fleeing war-torn Iraq, and he spent his childhood in Den Bosch. When he was 12 and the area was once more safe, Rawaz’s parents decided to return home to Kurdistan. But the lack of good schooling, jobs or prospects of any kind in his native country drove Rawaz back to the Netherlands, alone, at the age of 16. Fluent in Dutch, he was able to enrol in an MBO-level secondary vocational course and held down various side jobs to pay for housing and expenses. In early 2017 he got a job in Amsterdam. That was when Rawaz first discovered Zuidas. One look, and he was sold...
Do you remember when you first saw Zuidas?
“When I came to live in Amsterdam I was sharing a small place with five flatmates, so, as you can imagine, I went out whenever I could. That’s how I got into walking. Mainly I would walk along the canals and admire the architecture of Amsterdam, always daydreaming about living in one of those beautiful houses someday. On the way to work, I always had to change at Zuidas. Even though I was familiar with Amsterdam, Zuidas was new to me. I was bowled over. Every time I passed through Zuidas, I stared in amazement at all the buildings, and of course at the people, too.”
What was it about Zuidas that stood out to you?
“There’s so much happening here. It felt like such a cool place to me! At some point I started dreaming about getting a job or living in Zuidas. I could totally picture myself here. And then, completely by coincidence, not even three months after I started in Amsterdam, I was offered a job at a major international recruitment agency based in the ITO tower in Zuidas. I worked there for close to three years and felt at home there. At lunchtime I’d grab a ‘Zuidas sub’ at Dicky’s and in the evenings, we’d go out for drinks with colleagues.”
Eventually, you wound up living here! How did that come about?
“After working in the ITO tower for three years, I got on board with a start-up outside Zuidas. As a shareholder I set up the finance and IT divisions and helped the recruitment agency with its FTEs, business plans, organizational culture, customers and of course turnover. There came a point when I wanted to strike off on my own. As I was setting up my own business, I also gradually started looking for a new place to live. I wanted a practical location from which I could travel easily if needed. But also something more comfortable and nicer. In the end that led me back to Zuidas, so now I live in an apartment in the Gershwin Brothers, opposite Loyens & Loeff. I’ve lived there for going on two years, and my finance, IT and HR recruitment firm has been up and running since February 2022.”
How do you like living here?
“Zuidas really feels like home now. I walk to work, get my hair trimmed at Rob Peetoom, work out at Clubsportive and usually go to BLCK for coffee. And I still take walks, but now it’s mostly around here. Some of the neighbours and businesses know me by now, always with an espresso in one hand and a cigar in the other. I know, I have to laugh at it myself too – but that’s just who I’ve always been! In the evenings, after a long day of work, I head out and think about my plans for the future and take inspiration from everything I see. The energy of this place and all the big names that are based here, its international dimension yet intimate feel, the diversity of people, and now even a residential neighbourhood, make Zuidas as a whole a huge inspiration for me.”