“Farman Ali Khan” How many of us know him?

Farman Ali Khan

Farman Ali Khan, a Pakistani martial arts champion lost his life while trying to save several people getting drowned in the 2009 devastating Jeddah floods. Farman has recently been awarded the King Abdul Aziz Medal by Saudi Arabia. Pakistan government has also conferred a gallantry medal of bravery on him.

Nov. 25, 2009 will remain engraved in the history of Jeddah. Just after dawn that day dark clouds began gathering over the Red Sea port city. For the rain-starved population, it started as a celebration. On the main streets of Jeddah one could see youngsters splashing through the puddles. A little later the light rain intensified into a heavy downpour.

A view of the flood havoc!

The rainwater swallowed everything and left traces of destruction in the city’s history. Many died, and damage was estimated in the millions. People caught up in the torrent were washed away in waters thick with debris as everyone watched helplessly one onlooker, 32-year-old Farman, did much more than just watching the people drowning.

An expatriate worker from Pakistan’s Swat Valley, he worked at a grocery store in the locality worst hit by the flood. His neighbors were quoted in local newspapers as saying that Farman gave them his wallet and cell phone for safekeeping. He then tied one end of a rope to a pipe and the other around his waist and stood at the edge of the heart of the flooding looking for people to pull out. To those he couldn’t reach either swimming or wading, he would extend a wooden pole for them to grab. He went back 15 times and saved 14 persons before the water got the better of him and he went under.

A writer, Maram Makkawy, wrote: “Farman’s mind was occupied with one thought when he saw people crying for help … what he could do to help them? He did not say, ‘I don’t care.’ He did not stand by as some men did only taking pictures with their expensive cell phones of people fighting when they could help. He did not even justify himself as many did by saying he had a house full of women and that he was their only breadwinner.”

Indeed Farman Ali Khan saved the humanity and reminded everyone that one person with courage and determination can make all the difference in the world.

The family of Farman also performed Hajj on the invitation of the Custodian of the Holy Mosques King Abdullah as Royal Guests. A main artery of Jeddah city has also been named in his name. By honoring Farman, Saudi Arabia has won the hearts of hundreds and thousands of expatriates working in the Kingdom.