RIYADH: The father of Saudi traveler and vlogger Thawab Alsubaie gifted US citizen Sid Fritts two camels after the Georgia native hosted his son, calling the animals the most precious things a Saudi can offer.
Whilst studying in the US, Alsubaie was told about Fritts and his love of Saudi Arabia, and got in touch to visit him at his house in Atlanta.
A video on Alsubaie’s Twitter account showed Fritts, wearing traditional Saudi thawb, bisht and ghutrah, welcoming the vlogger to his house, and showing him round a room full of Saudi memorabilia dating back to the 1970s.
“My father worked for Saudia Airlines from 1978 to 1985; he was in ground equipment management,” said Fritts. “After his contract was over, we moved back to Atlanta, Georgia.
“Our love for the Saudi people and the country has always been dear to my heart,” Fritts added.
In an early interview with Arab News, Fritts said: “My American friends love the ‘Saudi room’ in my house, and I have so many friends in the Kingdom. I love the country, which I consider my second home.”
He added: “I have so many wonderful memories from when I lived there as a young boy. I get so emotional when I talk about it because of those memories and the friendships that I made while we were living there.”
Fritts, an air-conditioning company owner and classic car enthusiast, showed his old thawb that he used to wear as a kid in Jeddah, and a picture of the late King Faisal, calling him “a wonderful king.”
Saying that his father passed away a long time ago, Fritts showed some of his father’s belongings when he worked in Saudi Arabia, including his employment ID, driving license, and residence permit.
Among the belonging is a Saudia Airlines 1985 calendar, a certificate commemorating the launch of the airline’s Jeddah-New York route in 1981, a certificate of appreciation given to his father in recognition of five years working for the company, a National Geographic magazine about Saudi Arabia dating back to 1966, and 100-year old book that his father purchased from a small market in Jeddah.
Breaking into tears, Fritts said: “If I wasn’t given that opportunity to go to Saudi and grow up and learn a different culture coming from the hills of Tennessee, I don’t know where I would be today. I wouldn’t be who I am today and I don’t know if I would have the deep heart that I have today if I didn’t travel and see the world and get to know the different prospective of life.
“I am thankful for Saudi and the Saudi people, and for my dad who gave me that opportunity to be able to live and see the world,” he said.
Fritts then invited Alsubaie and his party to the North Georgia Mountains to camp and have a barbecue.
Alsubaie posted on his Twitter account, which has 314,000 followers, a video on Feb. 7 of Fritts and his friend Greg, who put the pair in contact, visiting Alsubaie’s father’s house in Saudi Arabia.
His father said to Fritts: “We thank you for hosting our son in the US in the best way possible, and because we cherish you, the most precious thing to us in Saudi Arabia is camels, and we give our guests the most precious thing to us, so here are two camels in appreciation to you from me, my sons and the Saudi people.
“You deserve this, and you came from a far country; we have to appreciate you and the distance you came,” he added.
Wearing traditional Saudi clothes and hugging Alsubaie’s father, Fritts thanked him, saying that he was honored that Alsubaie came into their lives where he considered him a brother.
“You are all my family,” Fritts said. “I’m thankful for my father for being able to be raised within the Muslim community and witness how great each and every one of your hearts are, and be able to open (my) mind and respect the religion and culture.”
Fritts then joked that he hopes that Saudia will let him take the camels back to the US in first class.