Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Youth watches Friend Die Online | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Never in his wildest dreams could Abdullah Mohammed, a young Saudi male from Riyadh , have imagined watching one of his closest friends die in a race car accident recorded on a mobile phone camera and broadcast on the world wide web.

Abdullah said, “We had parted company at the end of the school year and promised to meet up soon.” He loved downloading amateur mobile phone videos from the internet because “the events are true and not created for the cameras.”

He recalled his friend’s last few moments “lying on the ground”. The photographer, “instead of calling an ambulance, continued to film, trying to demonstrate his artistic ability. He took pictures of my friend’s face, zoomed in on the deceased body showing it all covered with blood. I couldn’t help thinking of his mother; he was her only son.”

Imagining the mother’s reaction to shots of her son, Abdullah wondered if “the photographer had an ounce of humanity left in him?” Can you believe, he added, “My friend is dying and the only person who could help him is more concerned with his technical prowess! Isn’t that incredibly insensitive?”

Many internet sites contain a wide selection of videos available for the public to download showing the last few seconds of injured daredevils. A large number of these videos are devoted to car races or as it is known in Saudi Arabia “tashfeet”.

Lulua al Fahd lamented, “The lack of responsibility in today’s youth in Saudi Arabia. They are attracted to new technologies but use them for the wrong purposes.” She added, “Some are convinced it is not their responsibility to help those in need, even if they are dying. Others fear the legal implications of intervening.” Al Fahd believes the problem is not restricted to videos of car races but “extends to other forms of brutality with young men burning animal or keeping them confined to small places in search of cheap thrills.”

Accordingly, al Fahd said, prohibition will not solve the problem as it can lead to secrecy and popularize the sport. The best way to counter this growing phenomenon, she noted, is to establish special clubs for extreme car racing, way from residential areas. In addition, emergency services need to be deployed to treat any casualties. The goal, al Fahd concluded, was to enable young men to practice the sport safely.