Tweet remembering compassionate sweet seller touches Saudi hearts

Updated 14 February 2018

Tweet remembering compassionate sweet seller touches Saudi hearts

RIYADH: A tweet recounting a touching story from Ibrahim Assiri’s childhood generated quite a buzz on Feb. 7. The tweet was viewed three million times, according to Assiri. It got 24,200 likes and was retweeted 38,200 times, while 1,660 people left comments about it, or shared their own.

“Tonight, the owner of a mini-market, who taught me that willful disregard does not equate to stupidity, passed away. When I was a kid, I handed him a fragmented 10 riyal note with parts of a 1 riyal note taped to it. He smiled at me and said, “Wow! Eleven riyals!” My purchases cost 5 riyals, and he handed me back my 5 riyals change. With the confidence and audacity that only a child can project, I asked him for the remaining 1 riyal. It’s a memory I could never forget.” Assiri tweeted, late on the evening of the 7th.

Assiri told Arab News: “I spent my childhood in a southern village on the mountain, where the nearest city was at least an hour away. Uncle Amer’s mini-market and all the candy it offered represented a paradise to a child with the limited imagination of someone who’s never set foot out of the village.”

“No matter the terrible state my riyals were in, and how I’d continue with my mischievous act, Uncle Amer never turned me or any other child away. Seeing our victorious smiles at having ‘tricked’ him brought him as much joy as it did us, in spite of the losses we were unintentionally causing him.”

Assiri found a mangled 10 riyal note inside a box, almost shapeless, and with youthful mischief, and knowing that Amer would not reprimand him, he taped parts of the 1 riyal note to the missing parts of the 10 riyals. “To my surprise, the kind man accepted it with a smile.”

“It’s been over 30 years since. When I heard about his passing, I could still taste the sweetness of the candy he used to sell, and I recalled his unwavering kindness and forgiveness.” Assiri expressed his grief, saying he wept for the loss as though it was his father who had died.

“I think people reacted to the story this strongly because it dwelled on human nature and morality of the gentle store owner. Or perhaps because it touched upon suppressed childhood memories that we’ve overlooked as we grew up. Telling my story showed me many in my country had their own Uncle Amer, and his store is but a symbol to countless others. He resides for ever in the consciousness of Saudis born in the 70s and 80s.”

126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj 2018

Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims arrive at Jeddah airport. (AFP)
Updated 8 min 2 sec ago

126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj 2018

  • Bangladeshi pilgrims were in a good condition and everything, from accommodation to treatment, was going well

DHAKA: The last Hajj flights from Bangladesh will leave for Saudi Arabia this morning.
About 125,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims have already reached the holy city Makkah, on special flights operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines
The two operators will take the last batch of 1,400 pilgrims from Hazarat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, after which the Hajj flights will be closed until Aug. 27.
The Bangladesh government has made extensive efforts to cooperate with the Kingdom in arranging travel plans for pilgrims, said officials in Dhaka.
“Our Ministry of Religious Affairs is highly concerned about the well-being of the pilgrims,” Saiful Islam, director of the Hajj Office in Dhaka, told Arab News.
“About 250 Bangladesh officials, including the staff of the Bangladesh mission in Saudi Arabia, have been deployed at places that the pilgrims will visit while performing the rituals of Hajj,” he told Arab News.
Most of the staff of the Religious Affairs Ministry have been sent to Saudi Arabia to assist Bangladeshi pilgrims and provide them with emergency support, Islam said.
“Three medical camps have been established in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah with 30 doctors and nurses to cater to pilgrims’ medical needs. In case of emergency, arrangements have been made to move a pilgrim in critical condition to specialized local hospitals,” he added.
“This year, so far, everything is under control and running very smoothly,” said M. Shahadat Hossain Taslim, secretary-general of the Hajj Agencies Association of Banglaesh (HAAB).
Speaking to Arab News from Makkah, Taslim expressed his gratitude to the Hajj Ministry of Saudi Arabia for its “better Hajj management this year.”
“Last year, many Bangladeshi pilgrims faced difficulty due to lack of transport in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah,” he said. “But this year, we have addressed the issue well ahead of time and are not facing any problem in this regard.”
Bangladeshi pilgrims were in a good condition and everything, from accommodation to treatment, was going well, he added.
A total of 126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj this year.
The Hajj flights from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia will be closed after Friday and resume on Aug. 27 to bring the pilgrims back home.