Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mugged in Saudi Arabia


M y teenaged son, Adam, also known as Captain Kabob, was mugged on the streets of Jeddah last night - ironically the night before the start of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims. He made a bad decision and mistakenly got into a car he thought was a taxi and he was taken for a ride, robbed and shoved out of the moving vehicle. He was fortunate. He could have been more seriously injured than he was, beaten up or sexually assaulted or even killed. And the thugs only got away with his mobile phone, when they could have taken his backpack which had his computer in it or his brand new 16 Gig IPOD he got in the states this summer. He was indeed lucky.


Adam has taken taxis here in Jeddah before and he has had very good experiences. My husband and I agreed to let him go to a friend's home to spend Friday night. It would be his last opportunity to do this before his school starts on Sunday. He packed up his clothes, toothbrush, and his computer into his school backpack and headed out the door around 6pm, before dark. Taxis are abundant here in Jeddah since women cannot drive themselves, and one always comes around within minutes if you are walking along the street.

A dark car pulled up alongside Adam. The warning signs were there that should have tipped my son off that something was just not right. The car did not have the identifying TAXI light on top of the car, but it had some gold lettering on the outside that Adam could not read. The car had TWO young Yemenese men inside who told him they operated as a taxi and they could take him where he needed to go. Adam said "No!" and continued walking. The car caught up with him and somehow those thugs talked him into getting into the car with them. My big, hairy teenage son, who has always been taught by me since he was a small child to be careful and not to get into cars with strangers, accepted their made up tale about being a taxi and got into the car!

Now Adam hasn't wanted to talk much about the incident since it happened, so I'm not exactly sure how it all went down. Adam made a phone call to his friend to tell him that he was on his way. When Adam hung up, one of the thugs asked to see his phone, so Adam handed it over. Now Adam's phone admittedly was much nicer than the cheap phones my husband and I have, but it was not the most expensive by far, plus it was two years old. Then before he knew it, Adam was being forced, pushed and kicked out of the moving car. He tumbled out onto the street, and luckily his backpack came with him - the computer was not damaged, thank goodness. A woman in the car behind saw the whole thing and told her son to stop and assist Adam. The kind young man brought Adam home. He was bleeding and had scraped both elbows and had abrasions on his back, and his wrist was swollen and hurting. We immediately took Adam to a clinic to have him cleaned up and to have his wrist checked. It was not broken, just badly sprained. His wrist was wrapped up and Adam was given a shot and a couple of prescriptions. We also called to have the service on his phone disconnected.

My husband was horrified that something like this could happen to our son here in Jeddah. Crime is a lot lower here than in the states, mostly because of the swift and severe punishments that are handed out, if one is caught and convicted. But this shows that we are not immune to bad things happening to us here, or anywhere. There are some pretty bad people out there. I'm just thankful that Adam is okay and that all they took from him was phone. Now we'll just have to work on his bruised ego...

P.S. - I must add that a week ago, my phone fell out of my pocket while I was in a taxi here in Jeddah. When I realized it was missing, we called my number and the taxi driver answered the phone. My husband gave him directions to our home and he drove all the way to deliver my phone. When my husband tried to give him a reward, the man didn't want to accept the money, but my husband insisted. There are plenty of good people here in Jeddah.

UPDATE: Aug. 29 we took Adam to a bone specialist because he was complaining about the pain in his hand, and sure enough, the metacarpal V bone is fractured. For now he will not have a cast, but if the pain persists, he will.

56 comments:

  1. I am so sorry! I was mugged once overseas and now about 8 years later I still have some issues over it... Is not an easy thing to get over. It definately can happen anywhere. I'm glad your son is ok & hope he heals quickly.

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  2. I'm a saudi man
    actually, the most (steal crimes) here is about mobile phones (lately you can add laptops & other small devices even wallets).

    Happen so much that many whom I knew happened to them at least once!

    This happen even in Holy mosque in makkah. (I'm from makkah by the way)

    The vast majority of those thugs are foreign resident.

    ..
    Also I don't disagree with you about the reason of less crimes here in KSA comparing with the west.

    There actually MANY reason you stated one, but the most obvious reason is the impact of islam's teaching & manners.

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  3. Oh my gosh Susie, I am so sorry ..... how scary! I am glad Adam is okay, relatively anyway.
    al Hamdulillah. It is ironic, in such a sad way, that this happened on the eve of Ramadhan. How very un-Islamic
    I was always so amazed at how safe I felt when I was there, even shopping in the middle of the night....something I would never do here in Seattle. I guess it can happen anywhere though. Shame on those young men in that car.

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  4. Sorry to hear about your son, I am sure it will only make him stronger... and more alert.

    Crime is not absent anywhere.

    Between Ramadan and Hajj, is when crime rises, mostly petty theft, and house break-ins... and pickpockets, due to people being out and about at night for a prolonged period.

    As you said, common sense goes a far way.

    I hope your son recovers soon.... and you don't go into overprotective mother mode :)

    Qusay

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  5. Susie (and Adam)--I am so sorry to read about this happening, and so grateful on your behalves that it wasn't worse.

    I just finished reading an article that referenced teenage boys as the most likely to take risks--being optimistic, and believing they can manage or handle a situation. At some level perhaps this was Adam being the teenaged boy he is, despite his upbringing and better sense (he did say no at first).

    One person is no match for 2 and it was best in away that they shoved him out, rather than giving him a need to fight.

    I hope he heals soon, both body and ego.

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  6. Susie, I am really sorry to know this happened to your son, hope Adam recovers quickly.

    We've been hearing 'tales' here in Indonesia to never take taxi alone in Saudi Arabia without male guardian - as you can be abducted or sexually assaulted and never return home again. I wish this was not 100% true.

    Do you have recommended Taxi companies that we (female) can rely on?

    I've been to KSA (Madinah, Mecca and Jeddah) 4 years ago for hajj pilgrimage and plan to visit again this time as tourist (tempted by your stories especially Al Balad, beautiful artworks and the food!)

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  7. I am so sorry this happened!!! How horrifying for your son (and for you and your husband!) So glad, though, that it wasn't worse. Will say a prayer for all of you!

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  8. I can't imagine how afraid you were as a mom hearing about this. I'm very glad your son is safe. It's always such a shock to realize how thin the dividing line is between polite society and the criminal element on the fringe.

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  9. As a mother, I can feel your aniexty. You probably didn't know if you should shake him for not using his head or hug him tight to your chest. (one of my favorite songs just came on your sight.. Rainy Night in Georgia-thank you for that!) Hug him for me too..

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  10. I also am sorry that your son was treated in this way, and am glad that he was not severely hurt. Unfortunately, there are bad people in every society who prey on others.

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  11. Wow, how scary! I'm glad he's alright.

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  12. Oh wow good thing he is ok!

    So jeddah is really ok to be in though?

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  13. This is a very scary thing and I'm sure glad Adam is OK. Could have been much worse as you say. So hope he learns to be a lot more careful.

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  14. Sorry this happened and I'm glad he seems to be okay.

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  15. i'm so sorry to hear what happened to your son, and happy that it was not worse.
    i hope that it is something he can learn from and put behind him.
    i'm sure this is hard for you as well. my son is a teenager, i would be a basket case right now.

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  16. Thanks so much for all of your best wishes and concerns. I have always felt very safe here and I still maintain that KSA is a much safer place than most other countries in the world. Hopefully Adam and I will just be a bit more vigilant and cautious than we have been...

    MamaK - I'm sorry to hear that you've been mugged too! I can only imagine how scarey that must be.

    Qusay - It's hard not to feel overprotective at this point. I'm sure I'll loosen up again after a while. Thanks.

    Online - I don't really know the names of reliable taxi companies here, but the main one I've seen has white cars with the light on top and their logo on the car doors. I have been in a few cabs here, but never by myself.

    Mr.C - Really, I consider Jeddah to be quite safe. I've never felt fearful on the streets here, but I have never been out by myself either.

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  17. Susie,

    That is terrible news, but I am glad to hear that your son is okay. Lately I have been hearing about so much crime occuring (in my area in the USA) and it has caused much concern among my family and I. We are more alert and aware that we are living in different times, where caution and safety are extremely important. God bless and protect your family always. We will include your family in our prayers!

    Oh and yes, Ramadan Kareem...

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  18. Oh wow! I'm so sorry, Susie! That is so scary. Your son must be quite shaken up. I'm sure he'll be even more careful the next time.

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  19. Sorry to hear your son was mugged, he must of been terrifed.
    Sending good vibes your way.

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  20. Thank God it was not worse!
    Lord have mercy.
    May your family never know bad incidents as this ever again.

    I just posted Ramadan kareem blessings to you and all.

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  21. OMG O_O Thank God Adam was not more seriously hurt!! Ppl like those men should be behind bars, and I should know I myself have been confronted by thugs who are cheating liars -- only I was in the UAE.

    I understand how Adam feels.. I also didn't wanna talk about it and it is kinda tough but eventually I forgot about it and moved on :-)

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  22. I"m so sorry to hear that this happened to your son! Praise God that he wasn't hurt and that the kind people behind him were willing and able to help him get home safely. May they be blessed for their mercy.

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  23. How terrifying for your son and also for you I'm sor sorry to read this awful news. What a nasty thing to do to a young fellow. I hope he recovers well.

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  24. Im glad he only suffered some bruises and scrapes...hopefully his eyes are now open to the potential for harm that can come from any direction.

    Always hate it when mom and dad are proved to be right with all their lectures about safety...sigh.

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  25. hi ms sussie..oh how sad ur story thanks god he is now okay,thanks for sharing ur story coz im here now in Jeddah just two days, i will be careful in riding a taxi.thanks..

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  26. Oh my goodness! I glad Adam is alright! What an awful situation, and thankfully that lady in the car behind was there to assist Adam.

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  27. Thank God it wasn't worse. May you all be safe at all times. Surely people who indulg in such acts have nothing to do with religiosity and spirituality and there are such people everywhere in every community. Only yesterday I read an old news from BBC about young men going on a rampage of sexual assault on women in Cairo on the day of Eid in 2006. Certainly such people don't care about the purpose of religion-it has nothing to do with Ramzan.

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  28. I'm sorry to hear that your son was mugged, but am glad that he is ok. Hopefully the police will find the ppl who did this.

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  29. Susie,

    First of all I am very sad to hear of this tragic incident. Thankfully Adam is overall okay.

    If you and your husband have not done so, you need to also report this to the US Citizen Services officer at the Consulate in Jeddah. They need to also know of such incidents involving citizens.

    All the best,
    Carol

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  30. How scary for you all! I hope they catch whoever did this. How awful!

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  31. I am so sorry, Susie, that this happened and I am so grateful that Adam is ok!!! How frightening!! Thank goodness he is okay. Sending hugs and a prayer your way....

    Love,
    Carol

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  32. Wow, I'm so glad that the whole incident was not something worse! So scary to think if the 'what couldas'

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  33. Hi Susie, How scarey to hear about Adam, especially having just spent a good part of a week camping with him in Washington with our Flagler group. They had such freedom. After an incident like that it's easy to question the amount of freedom we give our kids, isn't it? Give him our best!! P.S. He was such a gentleman during our annual camping adventure. Take care. Christie

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  34. It's filmy... I thought it happens in cinema but happens in real life too.....

    Hope Adam is ok... Thank God

    http://manojsrikanth.blogspot.com/

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  35. Hello Susie,
    I started to follow your blog with a scary post about your son. I am glad that he is safe.However I am very curious about life and your observations in SA.

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  36. Poor Adam! That's the kind of story that gives moms everywhere nightmares. Please send him my good wishes for a speedy recovery.

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  37. Sorry to hear that Susie. Glad your son is ok and was able to get home safely.

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  38. Hey Susie,
    Give Adam a hug from his aunt and uncle in Greenwood, Indiana. He probably knows now to always be careful and it was a hard lesson to learn.
    We're glad he's ok and it wasn't worse. Thank God!
    We love you guys, take care. Annie and Gary

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  39. Thank God Adam is ok! Give him a big hug from all of us!! I am sorry you are experiencing this too, I can only imagine the anxiety you, as a mother, must feel. I had a scary incident in Oman where a taxi driver attempted to molest me. It does make you paranoid & scared not just for your own safety but for those you love.

    Have you reported it to the police yet? They should definitely be on the look out for these criminals.

    Have a wonderful Ramadan, and you and Adam have lots of fun & eat well ^_^

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  40. Maybe if the religious police weren't so busy colouring out katy perrys legs they could help the regular police in tracking down the real bad guys....

    Take a few pictures of the rough and tumble kabob, let him load them on his face book- Chicks dig Scars!.. now he has a racy dramatic story to tell his crushes back in the US... (obviously I'm trying to look on the bright side... it really is so scary!)

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  41. hi susie

    thank God that adam is safe now, just be extra careful when ur outside the house, nowadays, there's a lot of bad guys out there, saudis and non-saudis are culprits of this kind of incidents.

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  42. Hello Susie,

    Like the rest of the posts here, I'm just wanting to pass on my best wishes to you and Adam. I hope he feels a lot better soon!

    In regard to having a bruised ego, you might pass on this story to Adam. My husband and I travelled for a little while in 2004 in Bolivia with a 20 year old tourist who, one day when we were travelling apart, naively got into an unmarked "taxi". Fortunately, he wasn't physically assaulted, but the thugs did compel him to hand over his wallet and other valuables. He was quite a bit older than Adam and particularly humiliated, as the men had approached him, smooth talking and touting their services, when he was inside a church and not even planning to use a taxi right then.

    So, everyone can be inattentive at times. It's just important to try to be vigilent at the moments when we are likely to be more vulnerable.

    Regards

    Kristina

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  43. Good nothin' happened to your son.
    And yes, there are still good people here in Jeddah. Just like what happned to me when i went to Yanbu on a road trip. A pakistani man helped me pull my car from the sand at the side of the road.
    Read the story...

    http://x-spotsaudiarabia.blogspot.com/2009/06/good-samaritan-in-yanbu.html

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  44. thank ALLAH that Addoom is good now..say hi to him...Aunt Susie:)

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  45. uffff So sorry...hopefully he did not get hurt and were not smart enough to steal his laptop too...

    things happen everywhere... just hope this situation does not make you feel fear or change your daily life habits, just keep living and doing the same...

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  46. Oh God Susie! Alhamdulilah he's alright. Geez you think kids would listen to parents' advice after all those years of hearing it...stranger danger! Will they never learn??? I'm sure he wont do it again though! May Allah keep all of you safe!

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  47. Hi Susie...I was hoping I could ask you to make a link to my latest post on your blog please. I need as many people to see it as possible...sorry for asking here.

    Thanks
    Coolred

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  48. Hi Susie...I'm so glad your son is safe Alhamdu Lelah..It must have been a very scary time for him...

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  49. #1--I am so glad nothing worth happened. That is just horrible, but I can't even think of how much worse it could have been.

    #2--I can't tell you how much it scares me that teenagers we raise to know what to do could be talked into this situation--when SO MUCH WORSE could have happened. I guess all we can do is pray for our kids.

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  50. Hope all lessons learned help for the future

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  51. Oh so sorry to hear about Adam This is awful. I am sure he must be feeling very vulnerable . . . his boundries have been transgressed & he has been victimized. All for a cell phone by people with a car. Just makes no sense. Thank Heaven his physical injuries are not more serious.

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  52. thanks god your big, hairy teenage son is O.K! my brother is 16 and I get scared for him when walking out alone.

    referee
    http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-28-2009/0005084630&EDATE=

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  53. Susie , i am so sorry to hear this , but Alhamdulilah your son is fine now and nothing bad happening to him .Allah bless u and your family .

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  54. Your husband is a nice man and he doesn't desreve this to his son neither do you and your son ..Take my advice that my father gave to me long ago( Stay away from low level people in the street especially foreign workers who used to roam the street for any job ) Your son learned the hard the way ,,Glad he is OK

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  55. So glad to hear Adam was not seriously hurt or killed. That is my son's name, also.

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