Tweet remembering compassionate sweet seller touches Saudi hearts

Updated 14 February 2018
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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.”


Hajj halls at airport will ease pilgrims’ path, says transport minister

Indian pilgrims arrive at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on August 14, 2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecakkah. (AFP / Amer Hilabi)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Hajj halls at airport will ease pilgrims’ path, says transport minister

  • Saudi transport minister unveils plan to simplify pilgrims’ travel procedures and provide them with optimum services
  • Streamlining of procedures is expected to reduce pilgrims’ waiting time from three hours last year to about 45 minutes this year

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s transport minister, Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi, visited the Hajj halls at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on Wednesday to ensure that work progress, performance efficiency and the pilgrims’ reception process are in line with the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) operational plan.

The plan aims to simplify pilgrims’ travel procedures and provide them with optimum services.

During his visit, the minister also checked preparations for receiving Hajj delegations while ensuring the provision of high-standard services. The application of technology systems and electronic programs will also help simplify procedures.

Al-Amoudi praised the Makkah Road initiative, which has been implemented in phases by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with other government bodies, to make Hajj procedures easier for pilgrims arriving from Malaysia and Indonesia.

The initiative includes issuing visas, carrying out passport and customs procedures in the two countries, verifying health requirements, sorting luggage and providing bus transport to hotels in Makkah or Madinah.

The initiative also ensures the readiness of GACA by scheduling upcoming flights arriving at the airport, which simplifies entry procedures.

Streamlining of procedures is expected to reduce pilgrims’ waiting time from three hours last year to about 45 minutes this year. Al-Amoudi said that the improvements are the result of the directives and support provided by the Saudi government to all air, sea and land ports.

“The Saudi government is keen to make every effort to simplify procedures for pilgrims and enable them to perform the Hajj and Umrah rites easily and safely through the cooperation and integration of all government and private sectors,” he said.

Pilgrims receive the utmost care from the time they arrive in Saudi Arabia until they return to their home countries, he added.

The minister thanked staff working in Hajj halls for their work and praised the integration of efforts between government bodies, especially employees of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health.

He also commended the readiness of GACA’s team, highlighting their excellence in providing transport services based on the guidance of the Saudi leadership for serving pilgrims.