Over 5,000 Saudi and expatriate women on Thursday created the world’s largest human pink ribbon in aid of breast cancer awareness in Jeddah.
According to organizers, the number of women coming into the Education Ministry Stadium in the Faisaliah district exceeded 5,000. However, around 1,000 left before the actual formation of the ribbon due to the delays in getting the sheer numbers of people organized.
The women were able to break the record within the first two hours of the event, as both Saudis and expatriate residents came out in droves to support one single yet very important cause.
The Riyadh-based Zahra Breast Cancer Association organized the event. Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, founding member of the association, was the driving force behind the campaign, held under the support of the Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Foundation.
Princess Reema said the private sector and the government have been very supportive of the foundation’s breast cancer awareness initiative.
“Let it be known that as of this day, ignorance is no longer an excuse and no woman should be allowed to be left to suffer in silence,” Princess Reema had said at the launch of the awareness campaign.
Attendance at Thursday’s event easily topped the previous record of 3,640 set in Germany in 2007. Thousands of pink scarves were distributed at the entrance gate and the women returned them to the organizers when they left.
The pink human chain, consisting of both Saudis and expatriate residents donning the pink tops and scarves, was built in the shape of the global ribbon of breast cancer awareness.
Saudis and foreign residents, including Arabs, Indonesians, Americans, British, Filipinos and Asians, had been streaming into the stadium since 5 p.m. Only those with transport problems and young children left early.
Participant Aseel Hindi is a 26-year-old math teacher who came all the way from Makkah. “We knew about the event through Facebook three days ago, and we as friends managed to gather and come a long distance to be part of the new Guinness record for the first time ever in our lives,” she said. Over 100 media outlets from around the globe also attended.
It was also the first time women in Jeddah were able to experience the atmosphere of a stadium in the Kingdom.
The stadium was half open, which led participants to cluster in one place. Students from different schools and universities as well as employees of companies and hospitals attended.
Some students said the atmosphere was great and enjoyed socializing with each other. Sixteen-year-old high school student Nouf said she and her classmates knew nothing about the illness and were only there because they had been asked to attend by their teachers.
According to Colleen, who came along with her British friends at the start to support the cause, the event was great but the numbers caused some delays.
“We came because we really wanted to be part of (this event) because it is the first time that something like this is happening in Saudi Arabia,” she said.
“It is disappointing, everybody here wants to be part of this and be involved, but it [took] a long time.”
Private school teachers were in a rush to leave because they had to take the pupils back to school. One of the teachers said: “We’ve been here since five and have promised (parents) that the students will be back by 9:30 p.m. and the event is going on for too long.”
“I thought some sessions or awareness flyers would be distributed to help us learn more about the illness. We even expected some victims to come,” said participant Um Tariq.
Breast cancer is the most-diagnosed form of cancer in Saudi Arabia, accounting for 12.4 percent of all cancers and 23.6 percent of cancers among women, according to a study by the Saudi Cancer Registry.