Saudi students in the United States, who live on the path of hurricane Sandy, are safe, said an official of the Saudi Embassy in the United States.
“More than 40,000 Saudi students were moved from places that were likely to be hit by the storm. They are now in hotels at safe locations,” said Cultural Attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Washington Muhammad Al-Eisa on Tuesday.
More than 18,000 Saudis are studying in higher education facilities on the East Coast, which was hit hard by Sandy. The total number of Saudi students in the United States is put at 92,000.
Al-Eisa denied that his office was unresponsive to calls for help, as some students on scholarship program had claimed.
“These are the impatient reactions of some students gripped by tension and fear. While an official at the attaché’s office would be answering urgent calls of some students, other student callers will have to wait until the official was free,” Al-Madinah daily quoted Al-Eisa as saying.
The diplomat said his office had been sending emails and text messages to all Saudi students in the US, advising them to coordinate with the embassy in Washington or the consulate in New York on any emergency development.
The attaché set up an exclusive telephone number to offer help to students around the clock, besides the other emergency numbers. These can all be found on the attaché’s website.
The embassy urged all students to follow instructions issued by local governments of their respective areas. The embassy had also taken steps to move students in regions hit by the hurricane to safe hotels at its own cost, he added.
The attaché had also warned students in safe areas against traveling to the states under the hurricane threat.
However, he added that all students in those eastern coastal states were not under threat, but it was better for them to remain indoors and follow security instructions issued by the local authorities.
Abdul Mohsen Al-Harithy, a Ph.D. student in Virginia, a state in the path of the hurricane, said that the he and his friends received warning messages from the attaché and state security officials about the hurricane. He also commended the efforts of the Saudi Students Association in helping students in distress.
Al-Eisa said the Kingdom’s Ministry of Higher Education and the embassy are closely monitoring the welfare of all students in the United States, particularly those who are studying in the states that lie in the path of the hurricane.
The attaché urged students in Houston to contact the consulate on the following telephone numbers: 2819178305, 2818890570 and 2819178685. Students can also call 2027463555 or 2027462888 to contact the citizens’ affairs department at the embassy after office hours. The emergency numbers are 5713796258 and 5713796082.