In an Emergency, call 911 — but only if you can speak Arabic

Every country has its own emergency dialing numbers which are easy to keep in mind and can be accessed easily. The main purpose is to provide security and health services as early as possible.

Fire brigade, police, ambulance and other public health departments are linked to with the emergency services in order to reach and help the person in difficulty as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia too has this emergency dialing service which works around the clock. 911 is the emergency number of Saudi Arabia, you can call at this number in an emergency situation and the staff will be available to help you.

But while calling on this number, make sure you know Arabic or someone beside you should know Arabic to talk with them.  This is indeed shocking for every expatriate who lives in Saudi Arabia because a large number of expatriate are unable to speak in Arabic.

The same incident happened with an American expatriate, who made a call on 911 and endured a frustrating time because she was unable to speak in Arabic, and the police operation center staff was unable to talk to her in English.

Recently a video came forward in which it was shown an American woman who could only speak English, called emergency number 911, but the employee at the receiving end was unable to respond her call properly.

He was unable to understand English and asked her to wait for some time to respond to her call in English. When she failed to receive a proper answer on time, she insulted the employee.

In that video it was seen a staff member at the operations center can be heard asking colleagues if anyone speaks English. After this video became viral a campaign was started on Twitter titled #we want the American woman to be made accountable.”

The people angrily reacted against the woman for using abusive words for the mother of the Saudi citizen. Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif has ordered to investigate this matter of police’s handling of the call, which was cut off because the woman can speak only in English.

 It came forward that the video showed only one side, but the truth is that, after the call was cut off, another staff member called the woman and asked her to speak in Arabic or find someone near her who could speak in Arabic

However, the Ministry said the operation center staff failed to serve the citizen and expatriate alike. Moreover, he said that they failed to fulfill their responsibilities. He ordered that the response will be held accountable.

The senior security official told Arab News that the strict and certain necessary steps would be taken against the guilty, but only after the investigation which is being carried on.

The staff is to observe the professionalism during the duty timings, and in the present scenario, they should have consulted the senior officers if they were having the language difficulties instead of dropping the call.

It has come to our information through officials that the Emergency Center in Makkah is fully equipped with gadgets and staff is capable of communicating in a different language which indeed is appreciated and helpful to many.

However, the Riyadh Emergency center was recently upgraded but not to full extent. We hope to see it as advanced as Makkah Emergency Center when the upgrading work is completed, expected by the end of the year.

Source: Arab News

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Steve has vast experience in writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures.