RIYADH – A Bangladeshi worker in Saudi Arabia has been showered with gold gifts and cash after he was ridiculed on social media when a photo of him staring at a jewelry shop display went viral.
“I received tons of phone calls and messages in response to my tweet. Some were really helpful, while others were claiming that they were the cleaner,” Abdullah al Qahtani, the owner of the Twitter account Ensaniyat (humanitarianism), who started a campaign to find the man in the photo, told CNN over the phone on Tuesday, December 6.
“But three hours [after] my tweet, which was shared over 6,000 times, we found him,” the 38-year-old businessman added.
The story started when an Instagram mocked a photo of the cleaner, who is from Bangladesh but works in Riyadh, by posting it with a caption that read “he looks as though he is seeing trash”.
The comment prompted an outpouring of support for the cleaner on social media, with many asking about the location of the cleaner, whose name was revealed later as Nazer al-Islam Abdul Karim.
When al Qahtani posted a new photo of Abdul Karim, people began asking for a way to get in touch with him.
“Some wanted to donate gold sets, others cash, iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones,” al Qahtani, who set up the Ensanyat Twitter account to connect social media users with people in need across Riyadh, said.
“Even a rice company wanted to donate rice bags to Nazer al-Islam.”
Turki al-Dajam, an executive at a Saudi sports channel, posted videos on Snapchat showing Abdul Karim choosing a gold set. He also posted photos of the cleaner with his new gifts.
Abdul Karim, who is 65, told CNN that he was delighted with the gifts.
He recalled the moment the photo was taken, saying: “I saw a flash. I didn’t know what this was. Then I heard that my photo was in the media.”
“I was just doing my job as a cleaner in the municipality and found myself in front of the gold shop. I am very happy about the gifts and very thankful.”
Al Qahtani was impressed by the amount of solidarity people showed from Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf region.
“I really wish we can always stay united like this to help people in need,” he told CNN.