Crown prince orders health center to be set up in honor of Farman Ali Khan

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speak to the media at the Nur Khan Pakistan Air Force base in Islamabad. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2019

Crown prince orders health center to be set up in honor of Farman Ali Khan

  • Khan’s sacrifice is a source of pride for the family, Swat residents and Pakistan, says father

ISLAMABAD, RIYADH: When Farman Ali Khan died after rescuing people from raging floods in Jeddah in 2009, his family in Pakistan could never have imagined how his heroism would bring fresh tributes almost a decade later.

Khan, who was working in the Saudi city at the time, tied a rope to his waist and jumped into the torrid waters to pluck 14 people to safety. He drowned in the flooding.

He was posthumously awarded the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order by the Saudi government in 2011 for his courageous act, and his family was given a cash reward at the king’s palace in Riyadh.

On Monday Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman further honored his memory by ordering that a new health center be set up in his home province and named after the former grocery store worker, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

“We already owe much to the Saudi government. The announcement ... to establish a health facility in the name of my son has further indebted us,” Umar Rehman, Khan’s father, told Arab News by phone from his hometown of Swat, in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Rehman said his son’s sacrifice was a source of pride for the family, Swat residents and Pakistan too. “I am impressed with the crown prince’s way of (paying) tribute. What can be best for a humanitarian person like my son than to establish a health facility in his name where poor people will be treated?” he said, adding that they were thankful to the crown prince “for this great gesture.”

The sense of pride and gratitude has also spread to local government. 

“The announcement of a health facility in the name of Farman is not only a tribute to his gallantry, altruism and sacrificing his own life for saving others, but it also reflects the kindness and spirit of the crown prince ... to take care of the needy ones,” Shaukat Yousafzai, the province’s information minister, told Arab News. “Farman cared about others. This facility is about providing health care to many of his countrymen.”

He added that Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, which was built with funding from the late King Faisal, was evidence of the strong bond between the two countries. “It’s a huge symbol of friendship. Likewise, when the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa see the health care center, it will remind them of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his great gesture of friendship.”

Khan’s memory also lives on in the city, where a street was named after him.

“What this man displayed is a rare act of heroism,” Rania Khaled, an account executive in Jeddah, told Arab News. “He didn’t pause to think of where these people came from or their nationality — all he cared about was that everyone survived the terrible flood. As a result, he lost his life and that’s what makes his tale so heroic. He cared for humanity, not just his own well-being and safety.

“He set a very high example of what a human should aspire to be. Your background, race and nationality shouldn’t matter; what matters is that we all stand together and help each other. I think if people lived with a similar mindset to that of Khan, the world would be a better place.”

Commenting on the decision, Dr. Khalid Abbas Alasadi, an author, said: “This is a beautiful tribute to his services. I do appreciate and pay my respects to the crown prince for the greatness he has shown to the people of Pakistan. The Pakistani nation stands with the crown prince. I would like to extend thanks on behalf of every Pakistani to the royal family. They are great people and doing amazing things for the good of the Islamic nation.”

The 2009 Jeddah floods killed at least 120 people and made around 10,000 people homeless. Those accused of being responsible for causing it — including academics, engineers, businessmen and foreign workers — were convicted in 2014, sentenced to 118 years in prison and ordered to pay millions of riyals in fines.

Science, arts key to bringing nations together: Saudi culture minister

Updated 16 November 2019

Science, arts key to bringing nations together: Saudi culture minister

  • Building bridges of understanding helps create a more solid world, Prince Badr bin Abdullah tells UN conference

RIYADH: Science, culture, and arts are key pillars to promoting dialogue and communication among nations, Saudi Arabia’s culture minister told a UN meeting on Friday.

Addressing the 40th UNESCO General Conference, in Paris, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud said the success and prosperity of future generations relied on the strength of cultural links between countries.

Heading the Kingdom’s delegation in France, the prince told the gathering that under the guidance of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman his country regarded culture in general as one of the most important foundations of human development.

He pointed out that building bridges of understanding between societies helped to create a more solid world where people of different cultures became interdependent, and he noted the Kingdom’s push for joint action within UNESCO.

“Culture and arts in the Kingdom are among the pillars of the National Transformational Program of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and its objective to building a vibrant society, prosperous economy, and ambitious nation,” added Prince Badr.

The minister told delegates that through Vision 2030 the Kingdom was heading “with confident steps” toward a better future and that the reform plan’s effects had “started to positively impact several sectors including education, culture, and arts.”

He reiterated Saudi Arabia’s determination to continue promoting joint action at UNESCO to achieve the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which were in line with the Kingdom’s own objectives.

“As part of its responsible position as a founding state, the Kingdom had made a big contribution to the UNESCO 1984 budget, and had allocated $25 million (SR93.7 million) to fund UNESCO’s strategic heritage programs and its actions related to protecting heritage through the signing of the letter of intent last July.”

In his speech, Prince Badr said the Kingdom believed that educating and rehabilitating young people formed the basis of any process of building, developing, and promoting culture in societies, coupled with nurturing them with human values.

Prince Badr bin Abdullah said that through Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia was taking confident steps. (SPA)

“This we emphasize on in our work, through a more developed system that is open to different cultures; for this contributes to strengthening social ties and opens wide the doors for peace among nations.

“In Saudi Arabia, we have sought to achieve this, in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals, as part of our strong belief in the importance of partnerships between the nonprofit sector with other sectors, which we consider as a key partner in development,” he added.

The establishment of the National Center for the Development of the Nonprofit Sector aimed to activate and expand the role of culture-sector organizations, particularly in developmental fields, the minister said.

He noted the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s comprehensive plan to boost societal contribution in developing culture and heritage “in order to open the opportunity for the whole world to have an in-depth outlook onto the treasures of humanity’s civilizations and its secrets that have formed societies, and have contributed in this cultural richness that we are proud of, in our country and worldwide.”

Prince Badr stressed the importance of youth and its huge potential in helping to translate the aspirations and hopes of societies and said the Kingdom had launched numerous initiatives to support their creativity and involvement in constructing their country’s future.

Saudi Arabia was keen to back the plans and activities of UNESCO’s Executive Strategy for Youth 2014-2021, he added, noting that artificial intelligence was at the core of future development.

In March 2020, the Kingdom will host the Global Artificial Intelligence Summit, which the prince said was “an annual global forum for exchanging expertise between various local and international actors and companies in the field of data and artificial intelligence, for the benefit of all mankind.”

Prince Badr concluded by encouraging member states to transform their visions into reality. “We are getting prepared, and we intend to elaborate the objectives of this organization for everybody’s benefit, and cooperate hand in hand for a better world.”