WAD PAGAH/PESHAWAR: It was 2006 when Said Sarim Shah traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah pilgrimage and disappeared.
His family hasn’t seen him since — that is, until August this year when Arab News published a photograph on its front page of a policeman carrying an old man during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Shah’s son, Said Arshad Ali Shah, says the man in the picture is his father.
“That photo went viral on social media and ultimately landed on my mobile, where I instantly recognized the man in the photo as my father,” Arshad told Arab News in the northwestern city of Peshawar, adding that the family was once more renewing its search for Shah thirteen years after his disappearance. Shah, who suffers from hearing loss and urinary problems, will turn 92 this year, his son said.
“After my father had been in the Kingdom for three months, my brother traveled to Saudi Arabia to search for him, but to no avail,” Arshad said. “We left no stone unturned to know his fate. Neither the Pakistani nor the Saudi Arabia embassies had any clue about his whereabouts.”
But Arshad added that after seeing the Arab News photo, he now planned to approach the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad once again to help track his father.
The Saudi embassy in Islamabad did not respond to requests for comment but Mudassir Cheema, a senior official at the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh, told Arab News that Shah’s son had contacted the Pakistani Embassy in Saudi Arabia after seeing the newspaper photo.
Arab News front page on Monday the 12th of August 2019
The photograph was taken by Saudi photographer Saud Almusihij in August this year during an attempt to capture an image he could enter into the Best Hajj Photo competition.
In an interview with Arab News in August, Almusihij said he spotted a police officer approach an elderly man who was suffering in the heat and whose feet were hurting.
“The policeman spoke to the old man, poured water on his head to cool him down, then picked him up and carried him for almost three kilometers,” Almusihij said.
Almusihij knew he had his photo. And when Arshad saw the photo online, he knew his father was still alive.
“I keep the gate of my home ajar and my cell phone on round-the-clock in the hope of receiving good news about my father,” Arshad said.