A young Syrian boy who lost his father in an earthquake arrived in Riyadh on Friday night with the dream of meeting his soccer hero, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Rabea Shaheen was invited to the Kingdom to meet the Saudi Al-Nassr football team — and its Portuguese star player — by Turki Al-AlSheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, after the youngster was featured in a news report about the quakes in Turkiye and Syria by Emirati journalist Monther Al-Muzaki Al-Shamsi.
Al-AlSheikh posted a video on Twitter in which he said the boy, aged about 10, had arrived with his mother and siblings and was looking forward to meeting his heroes.
Al-AlSheikh also thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their humanitarian initiative.
In the video, which has had 5.2 million views, Shaheen said: “I can’t believe I am in Saudi Arabia. If I saw Cristiano Ronaldo in person, I will cry.
“Minister Turki Al-AlSheikh, thank you for this beautiful invitation, I pray that God grants you all your wishes.”
Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, bureau chief at Al-Arabiya News Channel, said in a response to the tweet: “Thank you for this human gesture. In the shadow of the total darkness that the children of #Syria live in, there is always a ray of light and a hand that extends for good.”
When asked by Al-Shamsi in Syria last week who Shaheen would like to go with him to see the Al-Nassr players, he said: “My mom and dad, but actually, my dad is dead.”
More than 2.7 million people viewed Al-Shamsi’s video on Twitter, including Al-AlSheikh, who promised to make the boy’s dreams come true.
Saudi singer Khalid Abdulrahman praised the leaders of the Kingdom for their generosity.
“May God accept all their deeds and preserve them as an asset for us and for Muslims,” he said on Twitter.
TV personality and social media influencer Ali Al-Gofaily also praised the humanitarian efforts of Al-AlSheikh.