‘He is alive in our hearts’: Pakistani flood hero remembered by family

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Farman Ali Khan’s father Umar Rehman displays the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order. (AN photos by Rafi Ullah)
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Farman Ali Khan’s father Umar Rehman displays the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order. (AN photos by Rafi Ullah)
Updated 18 February 2019

‘He is alive in our hearts’: Pakistani flood hero remembered by family

  • Saudi and Pakistan governments posthumously honored Farman Ali Khan for his bravery

KARACHI: The daughters of a Pakistani man considered a hero in both his home country and Saudi Arabia for his rescue of 14 people during torrential floods in Jeddah say he “will always be alive in our memory.”
In late November 2009, as flash floods roared through the port city, Farman Ali Khan secured a rope to his waist and jumped into the roaring floodwaters to rescue people.
Khan saved 14 lives, but lost his own while attempting to rescue a 15th person.
He was posthumously awarded the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order by the Saudi government and Pakistan’s Tamgha-e-Shujat by then President Asif Ali Zardari.
Khan’s three daughters, Zubaida, Madeeha and Javeriah, told Arab News by phone from his hometown of Swat this week that they remembered their father as a patient, mild-mannered family man who loved to joke and lived to help others.
“He always dreamt of being a doctor, but financial troubles forced him to stop his education and become a grocer in Jeddah,” said Zubaida. “He couldn’t become a doctor, so now we will fulfil his dream,” she said.
“We unluckily spent little time with our father,” she said. “But he will be alive in our memories forever. Everyone in our neighborhood and school knows us as the children of a hero. Khan is our superstar.”

Khan’s father, Umar Rehman, told Arab News his son was one of nine siblings, and was hardworking and always busy. “But he would call his family in Pakistan every chance he got.”
“He was brave and fearless, but very kind and obedient,” Rehman said. “He would always talk in a light way, laughing out loud. I remember that when his grandmother would get upset, he would crack jokes until she started laughing. I never saw him angry or arguing with anyone.”
Rehman said he was devastated when he heard about his son’s death, but the story of his bravery “started healing my wounds, gradually.”
Shortly after Khan’s death, the family received a condolence letter from Saudi King Abdullah and accepted an invitation to visit the Kingdom as special state guests. A grand reception was held at the palace where the king awarded Khan the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order.
His father said that just weeks before his death, Khan had planned to get him a longer-term Hajj visa so they could spend time together.
“Farman from his childhood had learned to live for others. He gave us the message that those living for others live long, even if their souls journey to another world.
“Farman is alive, in our hearts and in our memories,” Rehman said.

KSA's Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

Updated 34 sec ago

KSA's Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

  • The Sharqiah Seasonfeatures over 80 events in cities acrossf the Kingdom's Eastern Province
  • Events in the upcoming weekends feature sports events as as well as concerts

RIYADH: Residents of the Eastern Province are no strangers to foreign visitors — the nation’s oil heartland has been welcoming them for years. But more have been arriving with the opening of Sharqiah Season, featuring over 80 events across the region’s cities.

Organized as a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage alongside the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority, it is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country in 2019.

Faisal Al-Rayisi, an employee at King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, told Arab News he was surprised by the number of people arriving for the festival. 

“People are not only coming from Saudi Arabia, but from all over the Gulf as well — Kuwait and the UAE in particular,” he said. “I’ve even seen foreigners from Europe and Asia coming through. Time was, we used to go to Dubai for our entertainment, but now people from Dubai are coming to us.”

He also mentioned how happy he was to see the festivities coming to the Eastern Province. “Jeddah has this slogan, ‘Jeddah is different,’ but now that we’re seeing the first Sharqiah Season in our region, and all of these amazing activities and concerts are happening here, I think we can safely say ‘Sharqiah is different’ now.”

The Sharqiah festival aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  

He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.