MAKKAH – Mohammad Al-Fateh Othman, the only survivor in a Sudanese plane crash, in 2003, now 17, has been invited by the Saudi Commission for Tourism to perform Hajj this year, Khaleej Times reported on August 7.
“I was over the moon when I received the invitation. I never had the chance to come here before and I can’t think of a better reason than to perform hajj,” Othman said.
“People often assume that I have a phobia of planes because of the crash but I love being on airplanes and I don’t remember the crash. I was barely two years old.”
The teenager was an infant sitting in his mother’s arms when the Sudanese Airways plane traveling from Port Sudan to Khartoum crashed in July 2003. Everyone on the plane died except Othman who was found by a worker near a tree.
The toddler then, Othman received help from various businessmen and influential people who financed his treatment post the crash. They also covered his educational expenses until he started studying information technology in Egypt.
Recalling the horrific plane crash, Othman’s father said, “My wife and Mohammad were flying over from Port Sudan and I had to stay at home to attend a family wedding and take care of my daughter Lina, who was only a few years old at the time. I heard about the devastating news. One of the rescue workers heard an infant crying.”
He added that the worker found Othman in a food cart used on the plane with water dripping on his bruised body.
“He was sponsored to be treated in Europe. We grew close to the worker, Qulai, who saved my son’s life. He’s now family to us and Mohammad is very attached to him. We’re grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to come here and perform hajj,” said Othman’s father.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several rituals, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Hajj is officially expected to fall this year between Sunday, 19th of August 2018 and will continue till Friday, 24th of August 2018.