x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE Google employee missing in Egypt

Wael Ghonim, the UAE-based head of the company's marketing for Middle East and North Africa stopped tweeting from Cairo and has not checked in with his family since Thursday.

The UAE-based head of the company's marketing for Middle East and North Africa stopped tweeting from Cairo and has not checked in with his family since Thursday.
The UAE-based head of the company's marketing for Middle East and North Africa stopped tweeting from Cairo and has not checked in with his family since Thursday.

ABU DHABI // A UAE Google employee was said to be missing this morning in Egypt after taking part in protests in central Cairo.

Wael Ghonim, 30, a husband and father of two, is Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa. The company announced early this morning that he was missing after maintaining close contact with his brother, Hazem. He was last seen in Cairo late Thursday.

“His family are devastated and very worried,” said a fellow Google employee, Najeeb Jarrar. “They cannot talk because of the state they are in, which is very difficult, and because of they neighbourhood they live in, the brother had to stay up all night protecting their home.”

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Friends on Twitter noticed Mr Ghonim’s absence after regular updates to more than 5,000 followers stopped on Thurday.
While some friends said he was an active supporter of Mohamed ElBaradei, the man many Egyptians want to take the place of Hossni Mubarak, the current Egyptian president, others have said he had no interest in politics.

One friend described him as “
the ultimate geek. His focus is empowering technology and entrepreneurship, no activism, no politics, just pure geeky passion”.

His last tweet, sent via his BlackBerry, asked people to pray for Egypt and said he was “
very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die ”.

Since January 25, when protests started, he insisted on joining the crowds in Cairo despite family disapproval. Along the way he kept friends and family updated of his whereabouts, how he was, and what was happening amidst protests. On the same day, he tweeted that he was “brutally beaten up by police people”.

He also tweeted that he slept on the streets of Cairo “trying to feel the pain of millions of my fellow Egyptians”.

Since tweets stopped, friends on the social network have showed concern, asking whether anyone has seen him, fearing that he may have been imprisoned or killed.

osalem@thenational.ae