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20 April 2024

'Hello Excellency'… 'but I’m not the Minister'

By Staff

Imagine if you buy a SIM card with a new phone number and you find out later it belonged to a cabinet minister. Would you be delighted or annoyed when you start receiving scores of call every day addressing you as “your Excellency?”

It could be either this or that or even a mixture of both. That was what happened to a Saudi man who was sold by one of the Kingdom’s service providers the number that once belonged to Minister of Health Abdullah Al Rabeeah.

Omar Al Suleimani from the northwestern town of Tabuk has been “Your Excellency” for nearly two years and is still flooded by calls to the “Minister of Health” every day.

The Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah said it had discovered this case when it called Suleimani for a statement this week, presuming he is the Minister.

“Hello Your Excellency,” the paper addressed him. “But I am not the Minister,” he told the paper which asked for a comment on a teen age Saudi girl suffering from AIDS after she received contaminated blood at a local hospital last week.

“I receive score of calls every day but this week they increased sharply because of the AIDS girl case. Many reporters called me for comment while others phoned to ask me to take action against the hospital involved in that case,” Suleimani said.

“Since I bought this number, which the Minister had given up, my phone has not stopped ringing…sometimes I feel happy and sometimes angry…some people do not believe me when I tell them I am not the Minister of Health….despite this nuisance, I am planning to keep this number because I am proud to have a number that belonged to a person with the position and reputation of the Minister of Health.”

Suleimani said most of the calls he had received over the past two years involved complaints about health services.