MAKKAH: An American who grew up in Saudi Arabia is working to correct misconceptions about the Kingdom’s culture and traditions from his home in the US after labeling his childhood “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Sid Fritts’ is passionate about the Kingdom, and spent many years living and working there.
One of his closest friends in the Kingdom, Abid Jan, told Arab News that Fritts is devoting his life to “correcting misconceptions about Saudi culture.” He added that Fritts has furnished his home with carpets and objects inspired by Saudi traditions.
In an interview with Arab News, Fritts said: “Yes, I still have my thobe (traditional Saudi long dress) which I used to wear all the time when I was a young boy and I now have one that I wear when I receive my Saudi friends.
“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.
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I am so grateful to my father because he gave me that opportunity.”
Fritts said: “When I was a young boy at Parents Cooperative School in Jeddah, I had no idea that being there would shape me into the man I am today.”
“My father served as a ground equipment manager for Saudi Arabian Airlines in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“I’m so thankful to Saudia for giving my father that opportunity.
“The Arab people were so caring and welcoming that we never felt like foreigners.”
He added: “We collected so many things when we lived in Saudi. You could not get stuff like that in the US. These items in my home are some of my most treasured memories.”
Fritts said that among the memories he would “never forget” was the time he remembered hearing about King Faisal being the “People’s King.”
He added: “Honestly, I was a young boy. It was and still is a dream for me to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. I am amazed by the transformation that Saudi Arabia has been going through since I left, especially that the memories I recall from life there as a young boy.
“But I’m very excited in the direction that it is going. Mohammed bin Salman is doing an amazing job, especially with regards to Vision 2030.”
Fritts now lives in Canton, Georgia. His father taught Saudi workers how to operate aircraft for the flag carrier between 1978 and 1985.
He said that he has Saudi friends in the US who visit his home and stay for weeks at a time. “My advice to Saudis would be to continue being kind people that they are and hopefully it will spread more love,” he added.
Fritts said: “I am 54 years old. I own several companies. I have owned a heating and air company for 14 years but am also co-owner of a company called Global Vision Plus, which specializes in sports and entertainment.
“We are now working on getting a project approved in the Kingdom.”