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.”

 


Guidance heroes of Hajj help pilgrims find their way

Updated 5 sec ago
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Guidance heroes of Hajj help pilgrims find their way

  • Scouts can be found in all pilgrimage areas wearing blue caps, brown vests and green neckerchiefs, helping pilgrims

RIYADH: The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation trained scouts to serve during the Hajj season to provide guidance and advice to pilgrims.

These scouts can be found in all pilgrimage areas wearing blue caps, brown vests and green neckerchiefs, helping pilgrims.

Hajj scout Ramadan Swailek says that his duty is to serve and assist the pilgrims at various locations in Makkah.

“We are roaming scouts, and we have specialists from various fields present in the holy sites, such as guidance, health, and safety. The mission of a guidance scout involves guiding lost pilgrims. If a pilgrim is lost, we use maps to help them find their way.”

Swailek said that pilgrims can get cold refreshments and take a rest at the guidance stations.

“This is the first year we are working as roaming guides. In the past, we always provided stationary guidance, helping lost pilgrims who might have been wandering for three or four hours, often frustrated. Guiding them to their destination brings immense relief, and it is a highly rewarding experience. People truly compete for this role because it offers a profound sense of fulfilment,” he said.

Abdulrahim Saad Al-Maliki is another scout helping pilgrims this Hajj season.

“We come here with the intention of serving the pilgrims, as my colleague Ramadan mentioned, and we cover five areas in Mina. There is a lot of roaming, guiding and assisting in various aspects. We thank God for the blessings of Islam, our faith, and the security and safety we enjoy. We are always at the service of the pilgrims. This is my first year, and I hope to continue serving the pilgrims in the coming years, God willing.”

The Scout Commission from the TVTC in the Madinah region won the best headquarters at the camp level this year.

The TVTC was established in 1990 and has 283 training facilities covering all parts of the Kingdom.


KSrelief distribute food aid as Muslims start Eid celebrations

Updated 17 min 51 sec ago
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KSrelief distribute food aid as Muslims start Eid celebrations

  • The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts, represented by KSrelief, to strengthen food security in Yemen

RIYADH: The Saudi aid agency KSrelief has distributed nearly 1,600 food baskets across Yemen, benefiting more than 11,000 people, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

The aid was sent to the districts of Al-Mawasit, Al-Ma’afer and Ash Shamayatayn in Taiz, as well as Al-Hawtah district in Lahij, and Al-Ghaydah district in Al-Mahra Governorate on Sunday.

The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts, represented by KSrelief, to strengthen food security in Yemen.

Also in Yemen KSrelief launched a project on Sunday to distribute adahi meat in Aden Governorate.

The meat of 300 sacrificial animals was distributed on the first day of Eid Al-Adha, in Al-Mansoura city, benefiting 2,800 people who are vulnerable, disabled, displaced and those with chronic diseases.

The project aims to distribute the meat of 2,330 adahi animals to 32,620 families in the governorates of Aden, Marib, Hadhramaut, Al-Mahrah, and Lahij.

KSrelief also distributed 25 tonnes of dates sent to Kazakhstan as a gift.

The aid was handed over in Astana on Sunday by the Saudi ambassador to Kazakhstan, Faisal bin Hanif Al-Qahtani, to the deputy head of the religious administration of the Muslims of Kazakhstan in the presence of a team from KSrelief.

 


Pilgrims perform final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

Updated 17 June 2024
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Pilgrims perform final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

  • More than 850,000 pilgrims had performed Tawaf Al-Ifadah by Sunday night in Makkah
  • The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam

MINA: More than 850,000 pilgrims had performed Tawaf Al-Ifadah by Sunday night in Makkah, the ritual marking the final days of the Hajj and the start of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations for Muslims around the world.

The long day started with masses of pilgrims embarking on a symbolic stoning of the devil in Muzdalifah under the soaring summer heat. The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

It came a day after more than 1.8 million pilgrims congregated at a sacred hill, known as Mount Arafat, outside the holy city of Makkah, which Muslim pilgrims visit to perform the annual five-day rituals of Hajj. The Tawaf Al Ifadah is performed by Hajj pilgrims after the returning from Mina.

In a press conference on Sunday night, Col. Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, spokesperson of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, said that all pilgrims safely returned to their tents in Mina after departing from Muzdalifah.

He emphasized that security forces are continuing their operations to ensure the security and safety of the Guests of Allah throughout their stay in Mina, including their rituals at the Jamarat Bridge and within the Grand Mosque.“These services encompass crowd control and management on all routes connecting their accommodations in tents, the bridge, and the Grand Mosque, as well as during their tawaf. I urge all guests to adhere strictly to the instructions governing their ritual performances,” he stated.

Pilgrims cast stones at pillars in the symbolic stoning of the devil, one of the last rites of Hajj, at the Jamarat in Mina, near the holy city of Makkah, on June 16, 2024. (SPA)

The spokesperson also advised pilgrims not to carry personal belongings when heading to the Jamarat Bridge or the Holy Mosque.

“Furthermore, I urge those intending to leave Mina on the second day of Tashreeq to follow the specified guidelines,” he added.

The days of Tashreeq are the three days that follow the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, Eid al-Adha, and are known for the ritual of stoning the three pillars in Mina, symbolizing the rejection of temptation and evil.

However, it is permissible for pilgrims to leave Makkah before sunset on the 12th day of Dhul Hijjah.Al-Shalhoub further reported that the 911 center in the Makkah region had received a total of 78,872 calls on the 10th of Thul Hijjah, covering security reports and service inquiries, all of which were promptly addressed.

He highlighted the close monitoring by Saudi leadership of all security sectors, noting continuous enhancements in their performance each year.“Our security personnel serve as exemplary role models in fulfilling their duties and facilitating the Hajj journey for pilgrims,” he concluded.

For his part, Ayedh Al-Ghuwainem, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj affairs said that the organizational plans and efforts were implemented in harmony with all the participating Hajj agencies.

“The stoning process occurred safely and tranquilly within just ten hours, achieving a compliance rate of 95 percent with the instructions,” he said.

He further added that the plans were designed to accommodate the diverse jurisprudential preferences of pilgrims using modern technology and preplanned schedules for grouping the pilgrims.Al-Ghuwainem stated that more than 800,000 pilgrims had arrived in Mina before dawn on Sunday, and by 8 a.m., all pilgrims had reached Mina.

On their arrival at the Jamarat Bridge, some 70 percent of the pilgrims used the first and fourth floors, while the rest of them went through the second and third floors, according to the deputy minister.

“Moreover, more than 850,000 worshippers have so far performed the Ifadah tawaf since midnight using shuttle bus services from and to the Grand Mosque,” he said.

The deputy minister added that the challenge they faced along with the concerned authorities was that most of the pilgrims preferred to go on foot, despite all the awareness campaigns and the availability of all means of transportation. He also urged the pilgrims to follow the instructions.


Saudi crown prince receives phone call from president of European Council

Charles Michel (L) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 17 June 2024
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Saudi crown prince receives phone call from president of European Council

  • They reviewed Saudi-EU cooperation and ways to strengthen in various areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has received telephone call from the president of the European Council Charles Michel on Sunday.

During the conversation, they reviewed Saudi-EU cooperation and ways to strengthen in various areas.

A number of regional and international issues were also discussed as well as efforts made to achieve security and stability in the region, SPA reported.

 


Saudi king, crown prince congratulate South African president on re-election

King Salman (R) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 17 June 2024
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Saudi king, crown prince congratulate South African president on re-election

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent separate cables of congratulations on Sunday to South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa on his re-election for a new term.

King Salman expressed his sincere congratulations and best wishes for success to Ramaphosa and for the progress and prosperity of his country, SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia has enjoyed excellent relations with South Africa, which have been strengthened and developed in every aspect.