JEDDAH: A 13-year-old boy named Omar Al-Ansari has become an internet celebrity in Saudi Arabia after appearing in several viral videos speaking in eloquent English and showing groups of foreign tourists the cultural sites of AlUla and the historical areas of Jeddah.
Al-Ansari’s story began when he and his father were captured in a video posted by a Peruvian journalist that later went viral on social media in Qatar during the World Cup.
Al-Ansari told Arab News: “We went to Qatar to support our national team but we couldn’t get tickets, so we went to a restaurant to watch the game and we met a Peruvian journalist who sat with us to watch the match between Saudi Arabia and Argentina.
“The journalist started asking us about our national football team and our culture and I explained to him the richness of our culture and our great hospitality we offer to foreign visitors.”
The journalist’s friend recorded the conversation and posted it on a social media platform, but Al-Ansari did not expect the video to spread. It was translated into Arabic, and the video was viewed more than 800,000 times.
Al-Ansari and his father returned home after a few days in Qatar to find the video going viral.
It had also caught the eye of Saudi Football Federation officials who took Al-Ansari and his father back to Qatar to resume their support of the national team.
His ability to speak English well has resulted in Al-Ansari deciding to promote tourism to Saudi Arabia as he continues his studies.
He told Arab News: “I belong to Saudi Arabia and my aim is to give the best service for all people wishing to visit my country and provide them with information on tourism.”
Meeting tourists will improve Al-Ansari’s language skills as he imparts his knowledge of the cultural and historical sites in the Kingdom.
He is making the most of his passion for history — and his distinctive style — to serve his country in a positive way, and has become a guide who introduces foreign tourists to the culture and history of the AlUla region.
He said: “The idea came to me during a visit to the AlUla region with my father. I suggested to him that we explore the opinions of foreign tourists in the region following the significant increase in visitors, thanks to the government’s efforts to develop the area.”
His AlUla videos, and consequent fame, caught the attention of Saudi Arabia’s minister of tourism, who praised his role in promoting the country.
Al-Ansari added: “I was very happy to meet the minister of tourism [Ahmed Al-Khateeb] and he encouraged me to do more videos with tourists.”
Al-Ansari admits he has been amazed by the public’s support and positive reaction to his videos.
Viewers have been impressed by his ability to speak English well, and the way he conducts his interviews. They are encouraging him to post more videos.
And having taken the internet and media world by storm, his ambition is now set on becoming an ambassador for tourism to the Kingdom.
Al-Ansari, who is currently studying in the third intermediate grade in Jeddah, revealed the secret of his mastering of the English language.
He said: “I learned it while I was traveling with my father when he was studying in the United States on scholarship in 2014. I was 5 years old.”
Al-Ansari’s 8-year old sister Jolan said: “I have been enjoying seeing my brother getting all the attention from viewers and media and hope one day I will become like him.”
Al-Ansari said: “What I am doing is delivering a message to the world of the important sites the Kingdom contains, whether in the tourism, cultural or sports fields.”
His father, Essam Al-Ansari, told Arab News of his pride in his son, and the hope that one day Omar will assume a prestigious position while serving his country.