"My job as a doctor is humanitarian. I am in service of humanity,"

- Dr. Nawf al-Gublan

Usually, we match superheroes with fictional names like Iron Man, Superman, Thor, and Wonder Woman. But this year, new heroes stepped onto the scene, ones that these fictional superheroes bowed to—the medical teams. These teams continue to carry out their diligent duty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their fight and their steadfast devotion to humanity are immeasurable.

As COVID-19 looms over the world, it makes us view ourselves as a global family. Doctors and nurses are at the frontline against COVID-19. We value them with the highest regard for their bravery. On this Humanitarian Day, Ithra pays tribute to the medical heroes, to the volunteers working behind the scenes providing food and support to the isolated and the fragile, to the security forces keeping us all safe by enforcing social distancing and masks. We salute the many other humanitarian warriors who continue to make great sacrifices during the pandemic.

We stay at home and only go out if necessary. While it is in place for our safety, others do not have that privilege.

Saudi Arabia has taken severe precautionary measures from the early onset of COVID. As the number of infected patients increased, so did Saudi and non-Saudi courageous doctors and nurses in the Kingdom amplify to treat and save lives.

In Madinah, Nujood Al-Khaibari was a nurse who contracted the virus in early June while on duty and passed away just a week later. She spent 18 years working as a nurse in the Madinah province at Ohud Hospital. A heroine in her field, she treated COVID patients until she was infected. In tribute to her sacrifice, Prince Faisal bin Salman Al-Saud opened the Nujood Medical Center in her honor and in honor of all the healthcare workers who fight against the disease.

It is the ultimate honor to serve in one's country, give back, and be undoubtedly brave to help abroad. Several Saudi medical professionals helped wherever they were. One such story worth noting is that of the medical worker, Nasser Al-Abdulali, a young 28-year-old Saudi, who moved to Italy in 2011 for university (Gangari, 2020). What makes Dr. Al-Abdulali's story unique and heartwarming is his refusal to accept the Saudi Arabian government's repatriation and his courage and loyalty to humanity.

"I could not leave," Dr. Nasser al-Abdulali told Al-Arabiya. "The sounds of the ambulances and cars transporting the dead filled the city, and my role as a doctor [is essential] during these crises." He tells Sabq newspaper that it is his "duty as a doctor to offer his assistance [during] these tough times." Italy is one of the most substantially hit countries with COVID-19. Dr. Al-Abdulali is a remarkable doctor and courageous human who is a role model for all.

Like Dr. Al-Abdulali, Dr. Nawf Al-Gublan—a doctor and alumni of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, also declined Saudi Arabia's repatriation. He stated dutiful words to Al-Arabiya News, "When the pandemic began, I continued to perform my duties because my job as a doctor is humanitarian. I am in the service of humanity. And hope to continue making my country proud, wherever I am." Dr. Al-Gublan helped treat hundreds of COVID-19 patients.

Saudi Arabia is home to many expatriates; it saluted many brave medical professionals, such as Dr. Naeem Khalid Chaudhry. He was a doctor from Pakistan who moved to Saudi Arabia in 2014 with his wife and children. He worked as a surgical specialist at the Hira General Hospital in Makkah.

Before passing from COVID-19, Dr. Chaudhry performed with zeal, dedication, and professionalism. He treated COVID-19 patients without hesitation. He, among many others, are remembered for their bravery, humanity, and commitment to help.

This pandemic has been a wake-up call. We, as a community, need to connect. We, as individuals, need to respect one another. We, as humanity, need to help each other. By the end of the day, it is up to us: people help people.

This blog is in dedication to every hero who has helped their community, hospitals, and people during COVID-19. From the delivery man risking his life delivering to various homes and locations to the researchers and those stocking up the market shelves, no deed is too small to be recognized. Each altruistic endeavor is never taken for granted.

Stay safe, maintain social distancing, and respect for each other.

Written by Nora Al-Taha

To check out Ithra's tribute to heroes, see the previous social media initiative here.