The luckiest black cat in Madinah, now living happily in Canada

Zamzam took four different airplanes on the trip to his new home — Canada.
Updated 06 September 2018

The luckiest black cat in Madinah, now living happily in Canada

  • The black kitten was being abandoned by the mother and rejected by her siblings
  • Don and Amany Trim named the abandoned kitten Zamzam

MADINAH: An abandoned and sick black cat near Madinah that couldn’t walk became one of the world’s luckiest cats when a Canadian couple, Don and Amany Trim, met her suddenly this Hajj and took her with them to Canada.

The story of Zamzam — the name they gave the cat — started on Don and Amany’s first day in Madinah when a married couple from Poland, Ozkan and Beata, found a very young black Shirazi kitten and two other much larger ones, along with a mother cat, outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The black kitten was being abandoned by the mother and rejected by her siblings. Beata felt sorry for the kitten, took her in her arms into the hotel, and sent her husband to buy some milk, Amany told Arab News.

“Because Beata and Ozkan were leaving the next day, they asked for our help in treating the kitten,” said Don. “My wife secured a syringe from the hotel clinic in order to feed milk to the starving kitten, hoping to save her life. 

Amany added: “We fell in love with the kitten from the first minute we laid eyes on her. We were told by people in Madinah that the kitten was a Madinah cat and  should stay in Madinah. We vowed that we would find her a home before we left the city. When we were unsuccessful in this, we felt that Allah had put her in our arms to care for her. 

“We asked whether it would be possible for us to take her back to Canada, completely unaware of the difficulty in doing so. Sheikh Fawaz had introduced us to one of his friends, Abd Alaziz Msnd Alghnamy, and when he heard of our desire to adopt the kitten, he agreed, thanks to Allah, to provide help. He spent the last two days of our stay in Madinah taking us to all the places necessary to prepare the way for Zamzam to return to Canada with us. 

“Having three cats of his own, he first suggested taking Zamzam to his vet, Dr. Ahmed Fathy Abdalaal, in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. We wanted him to assess the kitten’s health and determine how likely she was to survive the trip to Canada. The doctor was so kind as he prescribed medicine for her and prepared the paperwork necessary to obtain a passport for the kitten.”

After that, said Amany, part of the paperwork entailed giving the kitten a name. “After much thought, we decided on the name Zamzam. Zamzam is a miracle water, and we felt that it was Allah’s miracle that the kitten was placed in our path. We contacted the Saudi airlines and airport to find out all the requirements to take Zamzam back with us, and finished all her health and passport papers. 

“At the airport, Mohaned Abas Mahroqe and Khalid Khan prepared the paperwork to transport Zamzam on board four different airplanes on our trip back to Canada. No one believed that what we were doing would be possible, but we believed that with Allah’s help everything is possible.

“Our trip from Madinah to Winnipeg was stressful for us and Zamzam. The last hurdle was our final trip from Minneapolis in the US to Winnipeg in Canada. Delta Airlines has a policy that animals less than 10 weeks old cannot be transported in the cabins of their planes; Zamzam was only five weeks old. When the agent heard our story, he relented and gave permission for us to take Zamzam on board.”

“Thanks be to Allah,” Don said. “Today, Zamzam has been examined by our vet and given a suitable diet. She is enjoying her new environment in Canada and, insha’Allah, will have a long life. We cannot give enough thanks to the king of Saudi Arabia and all those responsible for the Hajj program for making my wife and I comfortable and welcome during the Hajj program. 

“Zamzam will be a constant reminder of our stay in Saudi Arabia. As a convert, I come away with a deepened commitment to Islam, a closer relationship with Allah, and an inner peace. Amany and I hope that one day we will be able to spend Ramadan in Saudi Arabia so that we can renew friendships with the many brothers that treated us so well.”


Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Updated 20 October 2019

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”

 

ALSO READ: INTERVIEW: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project to set ‘new global standards in sustainability’, says CEO