Ammar Haitham Abdullah, a 26 year old Saudi youth has suffered from paralysis since birth. In an interview with Al Arabiya Haitham says despite being diagnosed with Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, a rare genetic spinal muscular atrophy disease, he has overcome many challenges including surpassing his life expectancy.
Director Bader al-Humoud produced a short documentary film narrated by Haitham as he shares his life story.
Haitham began his education in the United States where he lived, until third grade, and attended normal schools. But he was in for a shock when he came back to live in Saudi Arabia.
“No school would accept me. My grandfather tried very hard, and managed to convince one school principal, who accepted me on the basis of being enrolled but without physically attending classes.”
“What's baffling is how I was an A-student over there (in the U.S.), and here they had wanted me to study in schools for kids with special needs.”
Haitham went on to graduate from high school in top form and memorized the Quran within two years. He can talk with the help of a hearing aid and has managed to succeed in completing undergraduate studies in King Abdul Aziz University.
“Unfortunately there are people with backward mentalities. They cannot deal with the disabled.”
“Situations like this would never shake me, because my goal is much bigger than that.”
“I had a lot of dreams, but the most prominent one was to become a journalist. And I managed to achieve that dream, and make it a reality.”
He is best known on YouTube as one of the people who has defied his health conditions by his remarkable story. H. H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince met with Haitham after seeing him on the social media platform, and told him he was a role-model for living a dignified life despite disabilities.
“The world is filled with challenges, and you have the choice - either face it or surrender.
Disability wasn't the end of the world. Disability is a catapult, a starting point to realize your goals and fulfill your dreams - and in a nutshell, you become the conqueror of the impossible.”
Haitham has been married for two years and is a journalist for the Kingdom’s Okaz newspaper.