Saudi man suspected of contracting Ebola dies

Updated 07 August 2014

Saudi man suspected of contracting Ebola dies

RIYADH/JEDDAH: The Saudi man who was suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus died on Wednesday in Jeddah, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.
Ibrahim Al-lZahrani, a businessman in his 40s, passed away at the King Fahd Hospital, where he was admitted Monday night after showing symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever.
Preliminary testing at a specialized laboratory was negative for Dengue virus. Additional tests were carried out to determine if the source of the infection is yellow fever, Alkhumra or another virus.
The MOH has submitted samples of the patient to an international reference laboratory in the United States as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Additional samples are being sent to an accredited laboratory in Germany.
Preparations for burial will be performed at the hospital in keeping with Islamic religious practices and international guidelines for patients suspected of having an infectious disease like Ebola.
MOH officials have been in direct and continuous contact with the family of the patient. Public health experts began retracing the patient’s travels upon notification of his symptoms and travel history. They are currently monitoring the people he came into contact with for any symptoms associated with viral hemorrhagic fever.
Saudi Arabia announced in April that it was not issuing visas for the 2014 Haj and Umrah to pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea due to these countries suffering from an Ebola outbreak. Medical workers are monitoring travelers at airports and seaports across the Kingdom.
Pilgrims from Ebola-endemic countries will be identified at disembarkation points in the Kingdom. The ministry has fielded special teams at air, land and sea entry points to identify pilgrims who are suffering from the disease.
The ministry has been carefully following online instructions issued by the WHO on the issue. The ministry also sporadically issues quarantine requirements to Saudi missions abroad.

Appeal for help
Meanwhile, the WHO on Monday appealed for contributions to combat the deadly Ebola disease in West Africa, saying hundreds of doctors, nurses, health staff, and materials are needed in the region as soon as possible.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said an emergency response will be implemented this week after being agreed by the chief of the agency and the presidents of the three most affected countries Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
WHO Secretary-General Margaret Chan and the three West African leaders agreed on an Ebola disease response plan involving three co-centric rings in the most-affected areas along their common border, Hartl said.
They want to institute emergency measures to encourage people to stay in those areas and not leave, to control the spread of the disease to other areas, Hartl said , adding that his organization would increase supplies of food and other benefits into the areas so that people can stay there.
As a result of the plan, the UN agency has launched an appeal for $100 million from donor countries. “ We need many more contributions from the international community, from governments, from NGOs (non-governmental organizations), academic institutions, from anyone who can provide us with doctors, nurses, and other public-health staff, Hartl said.
An Ebola outbreak has been ongoing in Sierra Leone since May 2014 and has also affected Liberia and Guinea. More than 825 people have died to date, making this the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.
At least three Americans have been infected, two of whom are health care workers at an Ebola clinic.

About the virus
Ebola is a severe and often fatal disease that affects and kills up to 90 percent of humans infected with the virus.The Ebola virus is passed to humans through close contact with animals, such as fruit bats, monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, carrying the virus.
Infected patients are highly contagious and pass the virus on to others who come in close contact with them either by exposure to objects that have been contaminated with infected blood or bodily fluids or through direct contact with the infected person’s blood or bodily fluids.
The incubation period for Ebola viral hemorrhagic fever is typically one week, during which time, the infected person will suffer from an array of symptoms such as fever, chills, back pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. As the virus progresses, those infected will experience a rash over their entire body, swelling of the eyes and genital area, bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes, ears, and rectum, followed by shock, coma and death in many cases.

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.

The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.