RAS AL KHAIMAH // Friends and family of a Syrian man who died when his car crashed into the RAK Creek have expressed their thanks to the Qatari man who drowned while trying to rescue him.
"Nowadays it's not easy to find people like that. Really, he's a champion to us," said Nadia Farhat, a 41-year-old from Lebanon who had known the Syrian driver, Ali al Kadri, for 14 years. "This is really a great thing he has done and God will give the rewards to his family." She also praised Saad Mubarak as a hero and a martyr.
Mr al Kadri, 37, was buried on Tuesday in his home town of Daraa after working in the RAK medical community for almost 15 years. Mr Mubarak, the 47-year-old father of five who tried to rescue him, was buried yesterday in Qatar, the Qatari newspaper The Peninsula reported.
Mr Mubarak, a military officer, was visiting RAK when he saw Mr al Kadri's car lose control and immediately tried to help. Mr al Kadri was on his way to work and is believed to have lost consciousness before the car sank.
"We are so grateful to him, of course," said Fryal al Kadri, Mr al Kadri's sister-in-law. "No other human would do that. He didn't think of his life when he went to help. We are praying for both of their souls together."
The exhibition of courage was recognised at the highest levels of government. Officials offered their prayers for the families and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had Mr Mubarak's body flown to Qatar for the funeral.
Those close to Mr al Kadri have also been speaking of their grief, with many friends, including Mubarak Ahmed, a Yemeni anaesthesia technician, saying he was more like a relative to them.
"I swear, I feel sad from my heart and I don't believe it," said Mr Ahmed, 38. "It's as if I lost a family member."
Abdulaziz Mohammed, 35, an operating room technician from Yemen, went immediately to the Ibrahim Obaidullah Hospital when he heard about the accident. There he met a friend of Mr Mubarak and thanked him for the sacrifice and courage he showed to trying to save Mr al Kadri.
"He's like our brother, he is a very gentle man," said Mr Mohammed, still referring to Mr al Kadri in the present tense. "Actually we are not believing his death. We are still in shock."
Some of Mr al Kadri's colleagues were unknowing witnesses to the aftermath of the accident, with Dr Yasser al Nuaimi, the director of RAK Medical Zone, passing by in his car just after the tragedy.
"I was driving in that area and saw the crowd and saw the police and thought there was some sort of rowing competition," he said. "I didn't know that one of those who died was among our employees. It was only later that I learnt the deceased was Ali.
"I give my sincere condolences to the family and condolences to all because he was one of the community and contributed so much to all of us."
Mr al Kadri had returned to the Emirates just days before the accident from a holiday in Syria, where he celebrated the first birthday of his daughter. His son is three. His two brothers in RAK flew to Syria for the funeral to join their brother, sister and Mr al Kadri's widow.
"She is in shock," said Ms al Kadri of her sister-in-law. "Yesterday night I called and they said 'she can't speak to you' because she's fainting. The brothers are too upset to talk. I pray that nobody else will know this feeling."
Mr al Kadri had worked as a technician at RAK's Saqr Hospital since 1996. Friends are raising funds for his family in Syria.
"It's like his soul is still with us," said Ms Farhat. "He's a strong personality and very good at work. Usually people get tired in this work, some people feel panic in an emergency but he was caring. We are thinking of the wife and children only. They have to stand somehow."