On June 24, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health announced 3,123 new COVID-19 cases. The pandemic seemingly arrived out of nowhere, and yet it has upended every part of our lives. What we once considered normal became distant and vague overnight. It would be an understatement to say that the period we are living through is unprecedented.
Looking beyond the number of cases and the lockdown measures, we can see that never before in the Kingdom’s history have each of our actions, as citizens, been this crucial. Even before the first registered case of COVID-19 in the country, tourist visas were suspended, entry into Makkah for Umrah was halted, and travelers visiting the two holy cities from the GCC countries were barred.
To ensure safety of pilgrims, the government has decided to go on with this year Hajj plans, albeit on a limited scale. It was an unrivaled, sharp, and decisive response for an unpredictable time.
Under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has done and continues to do everything in its power to curb the spread of the virus.
The government and Ministry of Health have gone above and beyond, but now, it is our turn as citizens to do the same.
These hardships will be overcome when each Saudi, regardless of age, background, wealth, and class, commits to the measures put in place for the safety of all citizens.
This is not a battle based on tanks, helicopters and ammunition. This is a battle of willpower ... a battle that requires us to unite in action and solidarity, and to unite as Saudis. This unity is symbolized when we all stay home, wear masks in public, social distance, and wash our hands.
If anything, it is inspiring to know that as I stay home to protect myself and my loved ones, my neighbor and someone across the country is doing the same.
But let us not forget the true soldiers — the nurses, doctors, and first responders who deserve nothing short of our utmost respect, gratitude, and prayers. They selflessly put the lives of others first and sacrifice more than most will ever understand.
Together, united as Saudi people, we will overcome this and will be stronger than ever before.
• Sami Fathi is a Saudi public speaker who participated in several platforms including the UN in New York in 2015 and 2014, where he spoke on children’s right to education and other issues, such as famine and food waste.