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Dh88 million Saudi camel purchase criticised

Money should be used to build homes and hospitals, Saudi columnist says

Gulf News

Manama: A Saudi columnist has criticised the purchase of 20 camels for SR90 million (Dh88 million), saying that vanity and extravagance have reached intolerable levels and that the money could build homes for the poor or provide hospital beds for the sick.

On Sunday, Saudi daily Al Riyadh reported that under a deal reached at an annual heritage festival in Um Ruqaiba in north east Saudi Arabia, 20 camels were sold for SR90 million and that three young camels were purchased for SR15 million.

However, in his column for Saudi Arabic daily Al Yawm, Abdul Aziz Al Yousuf wrote that he had “huge problems” accepting the news about the money spent on buying the camels.

“If the news are true, then we have a real tragedy because we have reached intolerable levels of vanity, extravagance and waste,” he wrote. “Please do not tell me that people are free in the way they choose to spend their money because this was an act of irrationality and lack of awareness and feelings. It is an act that showed that some people do not understand what it is like to be poor and in need and do not appreciate what it is like to be an orphan or to be crushed under heavy prices.”

The columnist said that the SR90 million could mean building 180 decent homes for needy families or pensions for 13,000 families for one year.

“It also means dozens of extra beds in a hospital or salaries for 2,250 employees for one year or a one-month salary for 22,500 employees,” he wrote.

Al Yousuf said that those who “wasted the millions to satisfy their vanity” should wake up to the reality.

“These wasted millions in fact do not respect the reality on the ground even if it is personal wealth. All this reflects an approach towards life that shows that many people do not appreciate what is happening around them. Please, do honour people and do not waste human rights by trading in animals. If you want to be successful, let it be within the values of our religion and the confines of public interests,” he wrote.