Ali Al Habsi leads volunteer group in post-Shaheen cleanup work in Oman

Oman Sunday 31/October/2021 22:06 PM
By: Times News Service
Ali Al Habsi leads volunteer group in post-Shaheen cleanup work in Oman
Al Habsi and his team helped people requiring aid in the wilayats of Khabourah and Suwaiq in North Al Batinah

Muscat: Legendary Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi led a team of more than 350 volunteers from his hometown of Al Mudheibi in the Sharqiyah region to North Al Batinah, where they helped in the relief and reconstruction efforts in the wake of cyclone Shaheen.

“After the damage caused by Shaheen, citizens from many governorates of Oman volunteered to help those affected by the floods,” said Al Habsi. “Many had been affected by the torrential flow of water within wadis, the electricity and telephone poles that had come uprooted, and to support the various government and military agencies in their work.”

“I think it is a great sacrifice we have all made – young and old – volunteering out of love to help our brothers and sisters,” he added. “These are the moral values and traditions of the Omanis since ancient times, and we have been brought up learning the importance of helping people during challenging circumstances.”

Al Habsi and his team helped people requiring aid in the wilayats of Khabourah and Suwaiq in North Al Batinah, and said he was proud to be among the thousands who answered the call to help their homeland during a time of great need.

He added, however, that he felt sorrow on seeing the devastation Shaheen had wreaked on northern Oman, particularly for those citizens who had lost so much of their property as a result of the cyclone.

“I feel proud that I too was among these volunteers, as we were like one body, all united in helping the affected,” he admitted. “This eased the suffering of the affected, and helped improve their feeling of reassurance and hope that things would get better, because we had come to help them.”

“We tried to raise their spirits through kind words and actions, and praise be to God, the impact of our efforts helped lift the mood of the young children and the elderly among affected families,” he added. “We were happy that we were able to raise their spirits.”

“Of course, anyone would feel sorry, seeing what these people have been through,” added the ex-goalkeeper, referring to the havoc caused by Shaheen. “But the decisions of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, executed through his national government, as well as the efforts of people who took the initiative upon themselves to volunteer and restore normalcy by helping build back better makes me confident that we can overcome such challenges.”

Addressing the people of Oman in the context of providing aid during a time like this, Al Habsi urged people to unite and cooperate with each other to overcome such trying circumstances.

“I want to issue a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who volunteered and helped mitigate the tough situations on the ground,” he said. “This was of great support to those who were affected by the cyclone.”

An extremely popular former footballer in both Oman and the rest of the Middle East, Ali Al Habsi became the first Arab from the Arabian Gulf to play in the English Premier League, when he joined Bolton Wanderers in 2006, after three seasons at Norwegian side Lyn Oslo.

He then moved to Wigan Athletic in 2011, where he won the FA Cup in 2013, as part of the side that famously beat Manchester City in the final. He had further spells at Brighton and Hove Albion (2014), before joining Reading in 2015. After two years at Saudi club Al Hilal, whom he joined in 2017, he returned to the Premier League, signing for West Bromwich Albion, before announcing his retirement in 2020. For the national side, Al Habsi has played 136 times, and was an integral player in the Oman side that won their first Gulf Cup at home in 2009, beating Saudi Arabia on penalties in the final in Muscat.