A 75-year-old woman from Egypt was arrested earlier this year entering Saudi Arabia with a suitcase of illegale drugs. Saadiya Abdul Salam Hammad was stopped with a bag of 75,000 Tramadol pills and detained for 40 days. However, during her arrest, it quickly came to light that the grandmother had been tricked by a group of men back in her hometown of Dareen, who were in fact drug dealers unbeknownst to her. She had been told by the group that a donor had offered to pay for her Umrah trip if she would deliver a suitcase to a friend of his at the airport.
"I left my village on March 20 to the airport. A man met me there and asked me to take a bag with me to Saudi Arabia where a man would meet me at the airport to take it," Hammad explained to Saudi Gazette. The frail grandmother explained that she had not suspected anything wrong regarding the request as she assumed the man who offered to pay for her trip was genuinely kind and generous.
According to the local news site, the man who was supposed to pick up the bag never showed up and Hammad was arrested at the airport. Her arrest caused outrage in Dareen where residents marched in protest and demanded the culprits be arrested. A hashtag went viral, catching the attention of Egyptian authorities and the Embassy in Saudi Arabia. The gang that had duped Hammad was eventually arrested and Saudi authorities were alerted.
Hammad was finally released earlier this week and, according to Gulf News, has been allowed to perform Umrah rituals in Mecca and to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina before returning back home.
Speaking about her experience in detention, Hammad explained that she was given a separate room in the facility and was allowed to talk to her daughters back in Egypt.
"The Saudi authorities were so kind to me and treated me like their own mother," she told local daily Al-Madina, praising the Kingdom.
According to the news site, investigations have revealed that Hammad was one of 10 women who had been duped by the gang. One woman had already travelled, while eight were still awaiting departure.