JEDDAH: Irfan Mohammed
Published — Thursday 30 May 2013
Last update 30 May 2013 5:53 am
Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani girl who was shot in the head and critically wounded by militants last year for promoting girls’ education, arrived yesterday in the Kingdom with her family to perform Umrah.
Her visit was kept low-profile and it garnered little attention until she met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in the UAE on her way to Jeddah.
“This is a private visit to the Kingdom dedicated toward performing Umrah,” said Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.
“Malala is keen on performing several Umrahs during her visit and wishes to spend time alone in the Haram Al-Sharif,” he told Arab News.
He said: “She is authoring a book and attending school. She has to prepare for her exams and therefore was not able to meet more people.”
Officials at the Pakistan Consulate in Jeddah said they were unaware of the details of her visit.
Malala, 15, stopped in Abu Dhabi on Monday to thank Sheikh Mohammad and the UAE government for sending an air ambulance and medical team to transfer her to the United Kingdom from Pakistan after she was shot last Oct. 9.
She then continued her journey to Makkah on Tuesday.
She was released from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in January and returned to school last month.
Malala, who became an activist at the age of 12, has become a global symbol for the campaign for girls’ rights to an education prior to the assassination attempt in the Swat Valley.
Her father is also an activist, having founded the all-girls Khushal Public School 17 years ago to encourage female leadership.
In March, she signed a $ 3 million book deal with Little Brown publishers to tell her life story. It will be published in November.
The teenager did not provide an interview because she is under contract by the publisher.