Father of slain Saudi student details depths of family’s tragedy

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Updated 03 June 2023

Father of slain Saudi student details depths of family’s tragedy

Father of slain Saudi student details depths of family’s tragedy
  • Three Saudi college students have died in the US this year, two in accidents at popular scenic locations and one who was murdered in Philadelphia
  • Saudi officials say that the deaths are very tragic but emphasize there is no evidence that the Kingdom’s citizens are being targeted

CHICAGO: Abdullah Al-Ghareibi was in his home in Riyadh about to go to sleep on Jan. 23 when he received an email from the Philadelphia Police Department.

Al-Ghareibi said that he had spent an enjoyable weekend in Washington D.C. with his two sons and returned to Riyadh days earlier, sharing happy memories of the trip with his wife and daughter.

However, Al-Ghareibi told The Ray Hanania Radio show, sponsored by Arab News, that he was “shocked” by an email from police asking him to “immediately” contact their offices regarding a “homicide” and his eldest son, Al-Waleed Al-Ghareibi, 25. Waleed was a university student in his final year studying network engineering.

The father was told his son had been murdered in his Philadelphia apartment building by a 19-year-old suspect, Nicole Marie Rodgers, who was from Atlanta, Georgia. Rodgers was moving out of the building and may have targeted the son for robbery, police told the father. Believing no one was in the building, Rodgers allegedly stabbed Waleed multiple times after she asked for his help.



“Nobody knows exactly what happened. It is just like a logic explanation from police, and the landlady. She (the suspect) didn’t speak and obviously my son cannot talk on his behalf. She tried to befriend just him in the recent days, try to get close. We understand from my son, he was like kind of annoyed. She knocked at his door. His room is on the first floor. She knocked on his window and she said I had forgot the keys and can you open the door for me. She tried to engage in conversation with him. She wanted to find a way just how to rob him,” Al-Ghareibi told The Ray Hanania Radio show on Wednesday, May 31, struggling with his grief.

Al-Ghareibi said that the police believe the murder was driven by the suspect wanting to rob Waleed before she moved out of the building. Police said that Waleed was allegedly stabbed multiple times by Rodgers, who was accompanied by her parents in court. She had expressed no remorse, police said.

Al-Ghareibi said that his family had received extensive support from the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. as they worked through their pain. Waleed was scheduled to graduate from the university in May, and his father was invited to accept the degree.


“I really thank them, thank the (Saudi) government. They are taking all the financial burden on it,” Al-Ghareibi said.

“But still, just emotionally, it is very hard on us as a family. We need to see the end of it. We need her to get what she really deserves. You think something might happen along the way with the court and lawyers and stuff, jury. You know it is not going to be easy. It’s not going to be easy, but we hope she gets what she really, really deserves. What she deserves is a life without the possibility of parole. That’s what she really deserves. But what will happen, I don’t know. It has caused a lot of hurdles we have to jump.”

Al-Ghareibi said that the university his son attended had contacted him and invited him to a memorial service, and presented him with his son’s diploma during graduation ceremonies.

“It was very touching,” he said. “I wished he received the degree by himself. That’s what happened. You have to live with it. It’s very needless,” Al-Ghareibi said, noting that his wife and daughter had not seen Waleed for nearly three years because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Waleed Al-Ghareibi was one of three Saudi university students who died in the US in 2023, including Abdulrahman Al-Anzi, 29, who was with friends at a tourist location along the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio on Jan. 30 when he fell into the freezing lake waters. He was recovered from the lake but pronounced dead at the scene.

On May 22, Atheer Al-Khalban, 28, was touring Glacier National Park in Montana with friends when she strayed off the trail and fell over a rocky cliff down a gorge into Avalanche Creek. She was spotted by other tourists who tried to resuscitate her but Al-Khalban, who was attending college in Kansas, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Glacier National Park Public Affairs Officer Gina Kerzman expressed condolences to the Al-Khalban family.



“Atheer was hiking a very popular trail in Glacier National Park that is known as the Avalanche Lake Trail. Sometime during her hike, early on in her hike, she went near the water. Nobody saw what happened exactly, but she ended up going in the water. She was swept down through the Avalanche Creek gorge and was pulled from the water by visitors who saw her in the water down below,” Kerzman said, noting that there was a steep drop-off along the rocky edge several feet from the visitor’s path.

“Every year we have fatalities in the park. Last year, I think, we had seven fatalities. The number one cause of death is drowning. Number two is falling, people being up on high levels either mountain climbing or just being at high elevations and falling.”

Al-Khalban was walking several feet behind her friends when she disappeared into the gorge and waters. Kerzman said that more than 3 million people visit Glacier National Park every year. May is the beginning of the most popular season for tourists.

Saudi Arabia embassy spokesman, Fahad Nazer, said that the embassy does everything possible to help Saudi families who are in need and suffer tragedies such as these.

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of Saudi citizens living or visiting a foreign country is among the highest priorities for any diplomatic mission around the world. It certainly is the case for us here in the embassy in Washington D.C. Over the decades, hundreds of thousands of Saudis have visited or studied in the United States. The overwhelming majority have a pleasant and productive stay,” Nazer told Arab News during the radio show interview, saying that it is one of the Kingdom’s “highest priorities” to keep Saudi citizens safe.

“However, occasionally accidents and tragedies do occur. As you said, over the past couple years we have had some tragic incidents that led to the deaths of a few young Saudis. As soon as we became aware of such tragedies, we immediately contacted the families of the deceased to provide any assistance that they may need. We also stay in touch with local authorities to make sure that we have all the details and we share these details with the families as soon as we obtain them.”

Nazer added: “Of course, our hearts go out to the families of these young Saudis. There is nothing more tragic than the death of a young person. However, I do have to stress that these are isolated incidents. We have no reason to believe that Saudi students or Saudis in general are being targeted in the United States.”

Al-Ghareibi, Kerzman and Nazer made their comments during an appearance on “The Ray Hanania Radio Show,” broadcast on Wednesday, May 31 live in Detroit and Washington D.C. on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News.

You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting ArabNews.com/rayradioshow.

Prince Faisal meets Cypriot president, Turkish and Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA

Prince Faisal meets Cypriot president, Turkish and Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA
Updated 1 min ago

Prince Faisal meets Cypriot president, Turkish and Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA

Prince Faisal meets Cypriot president, Turkish and Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA
  • The prince discussed relations and ways of boosting cooperation with both ministers

NEW YORK CITY: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with the Turkish and Thai foreign ministers on Saturday, the foreign ministry said.

Prince Faisal held talks with Hakan Fidan and Panpree Phahitthanukorn on the sidelines of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The prince discussed relations and ways of boosting cooperation with both ministers, the foreign ministry added.

Both meetings were also attended by Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN Abdulaziz Al-Wasil.

Starbucks celebrates Saudi National Day with special cup design

Updated 23 September 2023

Starbucks celebrates Saudi National Day with special cup design

  • Saudi artist Joud Yahya Al-Sultan’s work won public vote in coffee chain’s second design contest

JEDDAH: To commemorate the 93rd Saudi National Day, coffee chain Starbucks has announced the winner of its second design competition, held in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

The contest, which was launched last year to mark the Year of Saudi Coffee, aims to portray the Kingdom’s heritage and culture through art and creativity and encourage the creative community to pay tribute to Saudi Arabia’s history and its beloved coffee traditions.

This year’s winning design, created by Saudi artist Joud Yahya Al-Sultan, will grace Starbucks’ cups throughout the month. Her work was chosen by public vote from a shortlist of 10 designs, selected from a multitude of entries. The top three artists all received cash prizes.

Al-Sultan’s artwork incorporates immediately recognizable elements of Saudi culture including coffee, camels, and traditional houses adorned with vibrant decorations.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Al-Sultan explained: “Through my illustrations, I tried to highlight elements related to our beloved Saudi culture in a harmonious mixture that represents the Saudi identity. Camels, old houses and Saudi coffee are all elements that are deeply ingrained in the minds of the people, representing a history full of pride and honor.”

She continued: “Frankly, I did not expect to win due to the large number of creative designers and painters in the Kingdom.”

Her winning design was created using Photoshop. She selected a palette of brown tones to represent her country’s heritage and convey a sense of tradition and history.

Al-Sultan added that she is already planning her next creative endeavor for Starbucks — one that will showcase her artistic talents to audiences in the Gulf and beyond.

The artist told Arab News that she has been passionate about drawing since childhood. Her ability to create digital drawings and visual identities has opened up exciting opportunities in the world of art and design, she explained.

“My message to emerging painters and designers is to take advantage of the opportunities available to you because you do not know which of these opportunities will build your future,” Al-Sultan said.


Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating

Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating
Updated 23 September 2023

Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating

Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating

JEDDAH: The Consulate General of Japan in Jeddah recently hosted a lecture at its library on nutrition education, as part of its efforts to promote Japanese culinary traditions and cultural exchange with the Saudi community.

Chef Sato Taki, a renowned Japanese Food Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East since 2019, shared his three decades of culinary knowledge.

During the lecture, the chef focused on “shokuiku,” the Japanese term for nutrition education, and highlighted growing concerns about children’s health, including imbalanced nutrition, irregular eating patterns such as skipping breakfast, and issues related to obesity and weight loss.

Shokuiku nurtures children’s understanding of food, promotes informed dietary choices, and instills healthy eating habits through diverse experiences.

In an interview with Arab News, Sato highlighted the need for a change in Saudi food culture to combat rising diabetes rates. He emphasized the importance of promoting healthier eating habits and suggested that Japan’s culinary traditions could assist in adopting better and more flavorful dietary choices.

He also discussed umami, one of the five basic tastes alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Umami is a savory or meaty taste that enhances the flavor of food and is a significant aspect of Japanese cuisine.

Japanese cuisine is famous for its rich umami flavors achieved through ingredients such as kombu, bonito flakes, soy sauce, miso, seaweed and aged ingredients, as well as grilling and broiling techniques.

When discussing his culinary philosophy, Sato said that food serves as a means of connecting people, acting as a tool for communication and interaction. He sees food as a two-way channel, emphasizing its significance in his approach to cooking.

The chef began his culinary journey in Saudi Arabia in 2016. His work goes beyond simply introducing Japanese cuisine; instead, he focuses on exploring and creating flavors that cater to the preferences of Saudi diners.

His unwavering dedication lies in incorporating Saudi tastes into traditional Japanese dishes as much as possible. His efforts in crafting a distinctive fusion cuisine have played a pivotal role in sparking the interest of many Saudis in Japanese food and, more broadly, Japanese culture.

Izuru Shimmura, consul general of Japan in Jeddah, expressed his gratitude to the chef and the audience for coming together. He also extended his congratulations to the Saudi leadership and people on the occasion of the 93rd Saudi National Day.

“Chef Sato Taki has been very active in promoting Japanese food culture in the Kingdom. I hope this will be a very good opportunity to deepen and widen knowledge and understanding of the Japanese food culture,” Shimmura said.

At a packed venue, the diverse audience shared a common passion for exploring different cultures.

Nawal Al-Khair, a Syrian resident and polyglot cultural enthusiast, expressed her eagerness to explore Japanese culture beyond watching anime and learning the language.

“I was eager to delve deeper into Japanese culture beyond watching anime and learning the language. I yearned for more,” she said. “When I heard that the chef was hosting this seminar, I saw it as an opportunity, and I’m thrilled that I took it.”

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award
Updated 23 September 2023

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award

RIYADH: The Ministry of Media, in partnership with the Human Capacity Development Program, has launched the fourth Media Excellence Award.

The award celebrates outstanding media work throughout the year and recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact in the field of media through their efforts.

The ministry has extended an invitation to all institutions and individuals to apply for the award up to Oct. 17.

This year’s award will focus on six categories: photography, creative video-making, press material production, TV production, audio production, and national song production.

The award aims to motivate institutions and individuals who are interested in media work, as well as support and encourage creativity in various media fields among both amateurs and professionals.

Additionally, it seeks to highlight the best work and honor exceptional individuals within the industry.

The award management has established several criteria that must be fulfilled in order to apply for the award. Firstly, the material submitted must have been produced in 2023. It is not limited to a specific topic.

Secondly, the participating entity or individual must possess all intellectual property rights associated with the created material. The material should demonstrate a contribution in terms of the originality of the idea, creativity, and distinctive style.

Additionally, it must adhere to Islamic principles, the values and customs of Saudi society, as well as comply with all Saudi regulations and laws.

The criterion for distinguishing between participants will encompass the following values: determination, perseverance, mastery, and discipline.

The ministry will accept the participation of both institutions and individuals through the dedicated electronic platform, awards.media.gov.sa.

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 
Updated 23 September 2023

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 
  • The campaign aims to promote a safe, supportive environment, raise awareness on signs of bullying

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has recently initiated a campaign aimed at tackling bullying in schools and improving the psychological and educational well-being of students in the country.

The awareness campaign will introduce students to the different forms of bullying and their impact, with the aim of decreasing incidents of bullying and fostering a positive school environment.

“Having an initiative that informs students from a young age about bullying is essential, particularly the different forms of bullying, as bullying does not necessarily mean kicking, pushing, or damaging someone’s belongings,” said Nada Al-Yhaya, an English teacher based in Dhahran.

She added: “Most of the time, bullying is verbal, and it can be much more destructive than physical bullying. As a class teacher, most of the cases I deal with are verbal, and unfortunately, they are increasing.”

Ghanem Saad Al-Ghanem, a sociology consultant at King Fahad Medical City, said that signs of depression, changes in mood or behavior, and lack of sleep or loss of appetite are other silent signs of being bullied among children. (Supplied)

According to a study conducted by the National Commission for Childhood in the Kingdom, 57 percent of boys and 43 percent of girls suffer from bullying in schools.

With higher rates of bullying among children in schools, it can be difficult to know if a child is being bullied unless they come forward about it or display visible bruises or injuries.

“There are silent signs to spot that indicate if a child is being bullied, and this includes a decline in their academic level or feeling anxious when receiving a text message or an email, the desire to stop using the computer, avoiding social situations, or withdrawing from family or friend gatherings,” said Ghanem Saad Al-Ghanem, a sociology consultant at King Fahad Medical City.

He added: “Signs of depression, changes in mood or behavior, and lack of sleep or loss of appetite are other silent signs of being bullied among children.”

Similarly to identifying signs of being bullied, understanding the underlying reasons why children become bullies can also be challenging. These may include, but are not limited to, “jealousy, feeling frustrated, being a victim of bullying themselves, the urge to control others, or an attempt to cover up their own weaknesses,” said Al-Ghanem.

The campaign launched by the Ministry of Health aims to foster open discussions with students regarding the various forms and effects of bullying, and, most importantly, educate them on how to respond to bullying situations.

The campaign also hopes to inform parents and families about the dangers of bullying, provide them with guidance on how to respond when their child or someone they know is being bullied and encourage them to monitor their children.

“When children are heard, respected, and understood by their parents, they will feel comfortable reporting if they are being bullied,” said Al-Ghanem.

The ministry has encouraged students who are being bullied to ignore and stay away from bullies and to communicate with teachers, parents, or any other person they trust.

It emphasized the importance of involving teachers and school principals in creating a united team with students and parents to reduce bullying and reminded students that bullying is unacceptable behavior that carries consequences.