A Saudi royal family went out of their way and gave a warm farewell home party to its non-Muslim Sri Lankan private driver after 33 years of service.
Several royal figures broke protocol to attend the party which was held at Prince Abdul Raman bin Farhan Al Saud’s palace in the capital Riyadh on Thursday night.
'Sabq' newspaper identified the 76-year-old driver as Watti but said he was nicknamed Samy by the royal family as a “gesture of affection for him".
It quoted the driver as saying he felt as a “member of the family” during his work for the royals and that this encouraged him to stay for such a long period of time with them.
“I cannot forget the humanitarian gesture by the Prince when my relative stole SR10,000 which I had sent to my wife. The Prince heard of what happened and quickly summoned me and gave me the money,” Samy said.
“I have found affection, warmth, respect and good treatment in this place. The Prince had always joked with me by calling me ‘Prince Samy'.”
'Sabq' also quoted Emir Mansour bin Saad Al Saud, director of the strategic planning at the state Saudi Industrial Development Fund, who is Prince Abdul Rahman's grandson, as saying:”I was born and brought up in this place. I cannot image it without Samy. I have always considered him as part and parcel of this family.”
Yousuf Al Hadithi, a university professor who is related to the royal family, said: "We decided to give Samy a party when he told us he wanted to rest after this long service, which was characterised with sincerity and commitment. The entire family was upset by his decision because we all have considered him part of the family.”
He added:”This shows that we in Saudi Arabia respect all religions, contrary to beliefs by some. Samy is not a Muslim and I am sure that he would not have stayed with us for 33 years hadn’t he been treated with respect and appreciation.”