Al Jazeera World

Arabs Abroad: The Paralympian and the Bone Maker

The Moroccan Paralympic marathon medallist and the pioneering Jordanian designer of 3D bone implants.

Filmmakers: Mohammad Amr and Nasser Farghaly

Al Jazeera World with a series of films titled Arabs Abroad sources emigration success stories from all parts of the world. This film documents two Arabs abroad whose life and work reflects people with disabilities.

The Paralympian

Abderrahman Ait Khamouch
Abderrahman Ait Khamouch is a successful long-distance runner in his adopted country Spain. [Al Jazeera] 

Abderrahman Ait Khamouch represents his adopted country Spain as a Paralympic athlete, gaining accolades and awards including three Olympic silver medals.    

His story begins several hundred kilometres to the south, with a traumatic childhood accident in the small Moroccan village where he was raised. He was just eight years old when his right arm was burned by a bonfire, after which he jumped into a well to quell the pain. He suffered a severe fracture and infection which resulted in his arm being amputated.

“When the doctor saw me, he told my brother I had just 24 hours to live. That night, the doctor amputated my right arm,” Abderrahman Ait Khamouch tells Al Jazeera.

As a young adult, Ait Khamouch migrated to Spain in a small boat along with 40 other people. He later became a world-class long-distance runner, despite facing challenges finding work as a person with a disability.

Paralympian 2 - AJW
Ait Khamouch received three Olympic silver medals for his work as a Paralympic athlete. [Al Jazeera]

“I was motivated by the goal of helping my family in the village of Melaab. I also wanted to prove to myself that one day I could be successful and to show the others I could do it.”

The Bone Maker

Zreiqat - Arabs Abroad
Hala Zreiqat has earned recognition in her adopted country Australia. [Al Jazeera]

Dr Hala Zreiqat is a Jordanian living in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city. She has become a world leader in regenerative medicine, designing synthetic bone implants using 3D printing.

She uses cutting-edge technology and ceramic material to create bone implants which have been successfully tested in animals. Human trials of her 3D printed bones are just around the corner.

Zreiqat's bones
Zreiqat holds a synthetic bone implant created using 3D printing technology. [Al Jazeera]

“My ultimate goal is to see our inventions used by people so that humanity can benefit from our work,” Zreiqat tells Al Jazeera.

Her work reflects the future of 3D printing technology that may include better treatment options for millions of people around the world.  

Zreiqat is Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Sydney in Australia and has earned recognition in her adopted country. In 2018, Zreiqat was named New South Wales Woman of the Year for her outstanding contribution to medical research.