Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years

Eid Alsumani and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 May 2024
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Tears of joy as American reunites with Saudi family after 40 years

  • Relatives in Saudi Arabia say they ‘never lost hope’ they would one day find Eid Alsumani
  • Eid and his older brother grew up in Alabama estranged from their father and other family members

JEDDAH: A four-decade long search has finally led to the heartwarming reunion of an US citizen with his Saudi family, putting an end to a painful era full of longing and searches that had long promised to end in disappointment.

Two-year-old Eid Alsumani, now 42, and his older brother’s American mother cut ties with the family for reasons that have not been revealed to the public.

She had met Saud Alsumani when he was a student in the US, after which they married and had two sons.




Eid Alsumani and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time. (Supplied)

Following her return to Alabama with the boys, Eid’s mother cut all communication between them and their father, who returned to Saudi Arabia.

“Throughout that period of time, which lasted 40 years, members of the family were searching for their sons through the American Embassy ... (they) tried to search for the family several times, but no leads helped,” said Bander Alsumani, Eid’s cousin.

HIGHLIGHTS

• A video of Eid Alsumani’s reunion with his family at King Abdulaziz International Airport after 40 years of separation went viral on social media.

• For decades, the family had tried everything including seeking the help of the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

An English teacher at Abdullah Al-Thagafi High School in Jeddah, Bander told Arab News that his family did not lose hope in finding the lost brothers. “We just hoped they were alive.”

After decades of searches that yielded no results, their father died, never having reconnected with his sons. Their uncle, Khalid Alsumani, went to the US, determined to find his estranged nephews.




Eid Alsumani and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time. (Supplied)

According to Bander, while the uncle sought the help of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, the perseverence of another member of the family paid off as they found Eid on Instagram.

“It was the happiest day for the family ... we all were in joy and happiness when we heard Eid is alive and coming back home with his uncle,” said Bander. The joy also came with the sad news that Eid’s older brother had already died.

Eid and his family were finally reunited on May 9, with many of them meeting their 42-year old relative for the first time.

I believe I will visit again in maybe six months. Inshallah, I will continue to learn more about my religion, Arabic, and my family.

Eid Alsumani, Found after 40 years

“It was the most wonderful feeling in the world … just couldn’t believe that the family had been reunited with (their) son after so many years,” said Bander.

A heartwarming video of Eid’s reunion with his family at King Abdulaziz International Airport after 40 years of separation went viral on social media.

When Eid appeared from passport control with his uncle, his cousins and relatives hugged him one after another tightly, shedding tears of joy.

The family hosted a gathering with various members of the family who came from all corners to meet the long lost son and celebrate the joyous occasion.

During the emotional reunion, Eid, dressed in traditional Saudi attire, expressed his immense happiness and relief at being reunited with his extended family.

A US citizen, Eid was raised in Alabama and currently resides in Florida having graduated with bachelor’s of science degree in history and nuclear engineering technology.

Speaking to Arab News after performing Umrah in Makkah, Eid described the scene at the airport as “unbelievable.”

He said: “It was surreal. It was the first time I had been in my fatherland.

“I was extremely excited about the blessings of seeing four family members who greeted me with the legendary hospitality of Saudi fame. It felt like a scene from a movie.”

Eid, who was raised by his mother with Christian values, has reconnected with Islam with the help of his Saudi relatives.

He described praying in the Grand Mosque in Makkah as an unforgettable moment in his life. “When I was in Makkah, I was amazed to see so many people from all over the world who were walking and praying together as one for the sake of Allah,” he said.

Speaking about his future in the Kingdom, he added: “Alhamdulillah, my stay has been extended for a few days … I believe I will visit again in maybe six months. Inshallah, I will continue to learn more about my religion, Arabic, and my family.”

 


KSrelief continues health aid work around the globe

Updated 12 July 2024
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KSrelief continues health aid work around the globe

  • KSrelief delivered 2,000 healthcare kits to earthquake-affected Syrian refugees
  • In Taiz governorate, Yemen, the agency, through the Prosthetics and Rehabilitation Center Project, has helped 406 people who lost limbs

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief continues to carry out health aid work around the world, delivering aid packages and performing medical procedures.

In Taiz governorate, Yemen, the agency, through the Prosthetics and Rehabilitation Center Project, has helped 406 people who lost limbs, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
The project delivered 1,475 services in total, with 67 percent provided to males and 33 percent to females.

Among the beneficiaries, 11 percent were displaced people, and 89 percent were residents.

The services included the delivery, measurement and maintenance of prosthetic limbs, as well as physical therapy and specialist consultations.

The assistance is part of the ongoing humanitarian projects provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief, to enhance the health sector’s capabilities and alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering.

In Turkiye, the Saudi Sama’a Volunteer Program for Cochlear Implantation and Hearing Rehabilitation has completed work for earthquake victims in Reyhanli.

Also in Turkiye, KSrelief delivered 2,000 healthcare kits to earthquake-affected Syrian refugees in the Islahiye camp in Gaziantep, near Reyhanli. The program ran from June 30 to July 7.

During this time, the volunteer medical team from KSrelief performed cochlear implants to restore hearing and provided auditory rehabilitation therapy sessions for 84 children.

Manwhile, at the dialysis center in Banadir Hospital, Mogadishu, Somalia, 348 patients were treated in May, 163 of whom received 1,051 scheduled hemodialysis sessions and 12 emergency sessions. Outpatient clinic services and medical examinations were provided to 177 patients.

Of the patients, 62 percent were male, 38 percent were female, 2 percent were displaced people and 98 percent were residents.

 


Kingdom records 17% rise in passenger air travel in first half of 2024

Updated 12 July 2024
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Kingdom records 17% rise in passenger air travel in first half of 2024

  • Flights up 12% and airfreight 41%, says aviation authority
  • Saudi airports and airlines win top global services awards

RIYADH: The Kingdom has recorded a 17 percent rise in passenger air traffic over the first six months of 2024, to 62 million compared to 53 million in the same period last year, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

There were 446,000 flights, marking a 12 percent increase compared to 399,000 flights during the first six months of 2023, the report said, citing statistics released by the General Authority of Civil Aviation.

Airfreight volume also went up, hitting 606,000 tonnes in the first six months of 2024, a 41 percent jump from 430,000 tonnes in the same period last year, GACA reported.

The Kingdom’s aviation sector has developed considerably over the past six months, including 16 Saudi Arabia airports obtaining the Airports Council International Airport Service Quality accreditation for 2024, the report also said.

Saudi Arabia’s airports are now ranked in the top 50 worldwide, it said, citing the evaluation results announced by Skytrax, the international air transport rating organization.

Three of the Kingdom’s international airports won awards from ratings agencies last year.

Madinah’s Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport was rated the best regional airport in the Middle East during the Skytrax World Airport Awards ceremony in Frankfurt, Germany.

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah got the highest ratings on the Airports Council International list for 2023.

King Fahd International Airport in Dammam won three of the Saudi Airports Awards for 2023, including for the best facility in the 5 to 15 million passenger category, for the best customs inspection area, and best services for people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, national carrier Saudia won awards for being the most advanced airline in the world, and having the best economy class catering for 2024 in the Skytrax global ranking, the SPA noted.

Flynas was named fourth-best low-cost airline in the world for the second consecutive year and the first in the Middle East for the seventh consecutive year, according to Skytrax.

“All these achievements are part of the initiatives and programs launched by GACA, aiming to contribute to the development of the air transport industry locally, regionally, and internationally, in line with the National Strategy for the Civil Aviation Sector,” the SPA report stated.

“The strategy aims to make the aviation sector in the Kingdom the first in the Middle East by reaching 330 million passengers, increasing air freight capacity to 4.5 million tonnes, and raising air connectivity to reach 250 destinations to and from Saudi airports by 2030,” it added.

During the first half of this year, GACA launched several projects, including the development and expansion of Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah.

In addition, there was an expansion of Al-Ahsa International Airport, a new international departure terminal built at Taif International Airport, and self-driving taxi experience for the first time during the Hajj season.

Also, the first permit was awarded to use drones for cleaning buildings; a testing center for aviation personnel was launched; and the first phase of electronic gates was completed at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

This year, GACA won two gold awards for Best Customer Service and Best Public Service Center in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa region.

In addition, it won a Consumer Protection Association award for excellence in upholding passengers’ rights, and a certificate for flight safety and environmental sustainability.


Saudi Water Authority, World Bank sign cooperation agreement

Updated 11 July 2024
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Saudi Water Authority, World Bank sign cooperation agreement

RIYADH: The Saudi Water Authority, represented by its President Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Abdulkarim, signed a cooperation agreement with the World Bank as part of the Saudi Ministry of Finance’s technical cooperation program with the international institution.

The agreement aims to benefit from the authority’s expertise in developing the water sector and from its know-how in managing water resources by reducing operational costs.

It also aims to invest the accumulated research and engineering expertise to enhance water security through knowledge transfer.


Saudi authority is first in world to achieve ISO’s new AI management system certification

Updated 12 July 2024
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Saudi authority is first in world to achieve ISO’s new AI management system certification

  • The standard, introduced in December last year, is the first of its kind for Artificial Intelligence Management Systems
  • It provides guidance on addressing the challenges posed by AI, such as ethical values, transparency and continuous learning

RIYADH: The Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence has become the first organization in the world to achieve the International Standards Organization’s 42001:2023 certification for Artificial Intelligence Management Systems, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ISO standard, which was introduced in December last year, is the first of its kind for AIMS. It provides guidance on addressing the challenges posed by AI, such as ethical values, transparency and continuous learning.

It also defines a systematic approach for managing risks and opportunities, and for achieving a balance between innovation and governance in organizations that adopt AI technologies in their work.

Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, the president of SDAIA, said he was proud of the accreditation and that it represents recognition of the implementation by the authority of appropriate standards and practices related to management of AI, and reflects Saudi Arabia’s growing reputation for excellence in the field of data and AI.

He added that the authority’s progress and successes would not be possible without the continuing support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is chairman of its board of directors.

This support enables the organization to serve as a national reference point for data and AI, he added, and to regulate, develop and manage the implementation of these technologies in ways that ensure they are properly governed and position Saudi Arabia as a leader in the field.


Patients receive hearts from donors in Saudi Arabia, UAE

Updated 11 July 2024
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Patients receive hearts from donors in Saudi Arabia, UAE

RIYADH: The King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre has given hope to three patients, two men and one girl, after it successfully transplanted hearts from donors in Riyadh, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.

The journey of hope began with medical teams traveling from the hospital’s cardiac unit to Abu Dhabi and Jeddah to remove the hearts from two donors. The hearts were then transported by private jet to Riyadh.

A team from King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre then traveled to the King Abdulaziz Medical City to remove the third heart. It was transported by ambulance with the cooperation of the traffic department of the Riyadh region, which accelerated its arrival.

Traffic patrols escorting ambulances from King Khalid International Airport and King Abdulaziz Medical City to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre helped enable the transplant operations to take place within less than 24 hours.

One of the patients was a 9-year-old girl suffering from a weakened heart muscle. Her life had been saved by implanting an artificial pump last March.