Veteran tourist guide Jamaan dies of coronavirus


Okaz/Saudi Gazette

NAJRAN — Saeed Jamaan, a veteran tourist guide in Saudi Arabia’s southern Najran region, died of coronavirus on Friday morning, the first day of Eid Al-Adha.

Jamaan, aged 90, was also suffering from age-related ailments. He is survived by seven sons and six daughters.

Jamaan, who was popularly known as “Abu Sind” was illiterate and could not read and write when he was young. But later he became well versed in foreign languages — English, French and German apart from Arabic since 50 years ago. This was mainly attributed to his passion for social work and serving tourists. That passion enabled him subsequently to work in Najran’s tourism sector to familiarize foreign tourists with the Kingdom’s rich history and heritage.

Five months ago, Okaz/Saudi Gazette reporter had visited him at his home while he was recuperating from pneumonia. At that time, though crippled by the disease and after having undergone a lung transplant for respiratory problems, he spoke in a cheerful spirit about his memories with tourists, and his eagerness to return to work and visit the archaeological sites in the region.

Jamaan also recalled that he cherished sweet memories of being honored by Prince Sultan Bin Salman as the “Towering Tourist Guide” in the Kingdom when the latter was the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).

He expressed sorrow over his inability to continue his favorite mission of briefing tourists on the Kingdom’s rich culture and heritage at a time when the country is witnessing a huge inflow of foreign tourists following the government’s launch of the tourist visa (e-visa) regime for 49 countries.

Jamaan started his career with a small job in the carpentry sector in Saudi Aramco in the Eastern Province. “It was purely accidental that I came across a Red Cross worker and that enabled me to move to work with the International Red Cross based in the southern region of the Kingdom,” he had said during the interview. Jamaan noted then that working with the Red Cross facilitated him to have vast experiences in dealing with medical cases as well as becoming proficient in foreign languages.

This in turn helped him switch over eventually to his favorite field of guiding tourists in Najran. This was also instrumental in enabling him to build extensive relations with foreigners, especially Europeans, he said.

Jamaan had shared an interesting anecdote on how he joined the profession of a tourist guide saying that it was Prince Sultan Bin Salman who conferred on him the title of the “Biggest tourist guide in the Kingdom” in one of the celebrations in Riyadh during which the prince honored him with a memorial shield in appreciation of his work.