Sultan Salem Al Zaharani’s journey without his dad

My father’s name Is Attiah Al-Zaharani

Pilot and Captain of the Royal Saudi Air Force
During 1985-1986 from Jeddah

I probably wrote this story multiple times, and it’s hard to not get upset, angry or just disappointed in the fact I’m even having to do this.

My dad met my mother at Lackland Air Force base here in San Antonio, Texas at a club called Maxim. That is where multiple friends and family witnessed their relationship grow, the relationship that eventually birthed me. My dad would hang out with all of the officers after class on base at the bars. A lot of people saw their relationship and how he stayed with my mom during the whole pregnancy.

I was born May 8, 1986. My dad named me after his friend who he went out with during school here in San Antonio. All my life I saw pictures and heard stories of his antics from beating and putting my mother in closets so he could go out while she was pregnant, to using nun chucks on a group of thugs who tried to intimidate him.

My dad was a tall man, he was 6 foot tall and once he jumped in a 5 foot deep pool head first and scraped his chin where it left a scar. I’m a spitting image of him.
He loved dressing like Michael Jackson and he would take my mother back and forth to Florida where he was training In language and flying planes.

The story I’ve been told is that he left me shortly after I was born. He was stationed in Florida and the day I was born my mother took a grey hound bus to see him and left me with my grandmother. He was fully aware that I existed. I only have a vague memory of my mother calling and trying to get him to talk to me when I was a kid, he just repeatedly asked her, “What do you want? Money?” as if he had no obligations to help my mother support me. My mom reached out to him multiple times and all he would do is tell her to leave him alone and eventually we lost all contact. He knew what he was doing and due to technology today, I’m now able to get my story out in hopes my siblings will reach out.

As time went on my mom was in and out of the hospitals and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and manic depression when I was just 9 years old. She tried to commit suicide every weekend and I grew to learn how to prepare for her antics. I always wondered how my life would have been different if my father would have been around. I dreamed of a rescue. Sadly my mother died in her sleep in 2014 and is now in peace.

I looked all my life for him, calling the embassy, calling the base, and no one wanted to help me! But I never gave up. All my life I grew up being picked on because I am half Arab. I was never accepted by Arabs and never accepted by the Latino community either for most of my life I was alone. Despite the feelings of being alone I was a smart and a loving kid. But the lack of parenting and the environment I was left to crawl out of hardened me at a young age. I was a lost kid with hopes that one day my father would come and take me out this hell hole.

As I grew up, I just pretended he died. It hurt not having a male role model and wondering why he didn’t love me. Why I wasn’t good enough? I wondered if he would ever think about me and couldn’t understand how someone could live with themselves after abandoning their own child. I just kept pushing forward because I had no choice but to live fatherless. I was raised in the streets; I even joined a gang. I did whatever I needed to do to survive. When I was 15 I ran away and was placed in foster care.
That’s when my life changed for the better, I was able to finally be a kid. I blossomed and grew into a strong man with values and morals thanks to my foster parents.

When I was 18, I had my son and I never wanted to be an absentee father like my dad so I joined the military to provide for my family and create a future for us. During my deployments in combat and training I started to hate myself for being Arab. For so long I struggled with inner hate. Throughout my whole military career, I heard a lot of racist comments about Arabs. I never told anyone I was Arab and during my time in the Army..I started to once again feel like I was alone in this world. I was scared and it affects me still to this day.

I was slipping into a mental condition that was reactive off impulse, anger, hatred for myself and for anyone who I felt was a bad person. It has taken years of therapy and counseling for me to fall back in love with my self, my culture, and my blood.
I finally regained faith in God. I realized how I demonized myself into believing I wasn’t worth anything.
I wasn’t worth:
A family
A career
For so long I felt like I didn’t deserve it. Now I’m a single father to my youngest daughter. I’m still learning how to be a good father and still learning how to be a man.

In 2021 I found pen pals in Saudi Arabia and I told them my story. Eventually they helped me and I received my father’s number. I was 35 years old, I’ve made it out of rough environments, I survived 2 combat tours to Iraq, I jumped out of planes, I’ve combated mental conditions and I’ve been through hell and back. I’ve done all of those things but calling my dad was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

It took me a year to finally muster up the courage to finally call. The day I called he didn’t answer the first 2 times and on the third time he finally answered. I’m assuming he saw the number and recognized it. I was surprised to hear he spoke perfect English. He asked me who I was. I told him I was his son and an awkward silence flooded the phone … I started to explain to him who I was. I told him I was a good man and good father and I was proud to say I served my country. I told him I forgave him for his absence and that I wasn’t angry. I explained to him that I didn’t hold any hard feels towards him. He then asked what I wanted from him. I nervously asked him to meet my family and I wanted to meet my siblings or maybe just a visit. Since my mother died in 2014, I was alone with no family. His response was that he didn’t know me. He just repeated over and over he did not know me. He blamed my mother, said it was her fault and she couldn’t be trusted. Then repeated again I DONT KNOW YOU!

I got so upset I hung up on him. I didn’t know how to respond to his disrespect and his blatant attempt to blame my mother. A few days later I called again and he had changed his number. I thought about how much of a coward he had to be to hide me from his family. I understand the problems and the image he will receive but that’s not my fault.
It’s not my fault he decided to have a baby before marriage.
It’s not my fault he couldn’t be a man and take care of his responsibilities.
It’s not my fault.
I’m the victim here.

After the conversation with my father, I fell into a deep depression. I felt he took my identity that I had fought so hard to defend. I felt all the therapy and progress I made was ripped away from me. It hurt that still after 36 years I’m not wanted. It hurt to hear how easy it was for him to treat me like trash. Sill to this day my struggle continues.

It would be selfish to say he ruined my life but I know for a fact my life would have been better if he would have been around.

To my family
I would love to meet you.
I would love to find faith
I would love to know my family story
I’m a good man
A father
A brother
A son
A man of love and compassion
And I would of love to have done this in private but I was left with no choice.
I don’t want to damage anyone’s reputation.

Dad I’m sorry, I respect you but you said you don’t know me
Well it’s time to let go of your pride and get to know me.
I’m here and I’m not going anywhere and one day I hope to visit with or without your blessing.

Anyone can find me online
On Facebook or Instagram
Under the Name
Sultan Salem Al-Zaharani
Or call me
I hope to visit one day and I’m planning a trip soon please contact me
I hope to one day hear from you all

Thank you Everyone for reading my story
And God bless!

Categories: Main Page | 10 Comments

Post navigation

10 thoughts on “Sultan Salem Al Zaharani’s journey without his dad

  1. Atif

    Great job brother..your post perfectly sums up the emotional rollercoaster that we as abandoned kids go through. Growing up feeling isolation, fear, shame and depression as a result of loss of identity and culture.
    Hopefully you find peace as a result of getting your story out

    • Alice

      I’m really sorry for what happened to you . My self I’m a single mother and now my is Turning 3 and his father is also from Saudi Arabia and he doesn’t do anything or even to ask about his son. He left us when our son was one year old . And there’s no communication at all his name is Safar Abdullah Alghamdi from Riyadh

  2. Aseel

    The story token hearth, I’m really sorry, I think your father was coward to say the truth or recognize you as his son even without marriage. My blame to him to his family and conservative culture there. My the way I’m also father the mom of my daughter she is latina, we are not together. But I accepted my daughter and I love her.

  3. I am so praying for you and your family.
    Get into a good church with people who love and support you, especially good men who will be able to help you along your journey as a father.
    Please don’t give up on your family.
    God does have a plan.
    You, your daughter and family are loved!
    God bless you.
    I am so praying.

  4. Y

    Did he study Pharmacy @
    De Montfort University

    • Sultan

      I don’t know anything about him besides what I wrote about on the page and I’m sorry it took so long for me to write back I didn’t know I could.
      I still have his numbers

      • Al

        Is there a way to contact you? I can bring you his number and his account on social media

  5. Maria

    I was lied to from a Saudi pilot from lackland Air Force Base back in 2006, he promised engagement with a ring, after 8 months of a relationship he said he had to go back home but would return in few months,and after the first couple weeks a horrible feeling came over me that he was not returning when he dropped me off at the airport the last time we saw each other he called me on the phone heavily crying and then I started to realize that he abandoned me. It was a deeply painful time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: