x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A year on, family pray for missing diver

The family of an Emirati freediving champion seeks to reopen an investigation into why he went missing one year ago as he attempted a dive to 70 metres.

Adel Abu Haliqa failed to return to the surface after a dive to 70 metres, a depth at which he was known to be comfortable.
Adel Abu Haliqa failed to return to the surface after a dive to 70 metres, a depth at which he was known to be comfortable.

The family of Emirati freediving champion Adel Abu Haliqa gathered for prayer at their home in the capital yesterday, a year to the day he disappeared while diving off the Greek island of Santorini.

The father-of-three failed to return to the surface after a dive to 70 metres, a depth at which he was known to be comfortable.

Numerous searches have failed to provide a clue about what happened to him.

The Abu Haliqa family, including Adel's wife, Nada, and their three children prayerfully marked June 7 of last year, as they sought to reopen the investigation through a lawyer in Greece, said Mr Abu Haliqa's brother, Hussain.

"We still have not concluded anything. We are trying to reopen the investigation" he said. "Things are very slow but we do not have many options, we are just waiting.

"We do not know what else we should do," he said. "Right now, we do not see any specific thing except to try to reopen the investigation and talk to the people who were with him."

The two brothers used to jointly run the family business, Abu Haleeqa Stores.

It sells traditional UAE clothing and accessories, and has branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Freediving usually involves taking a breath of air at the surface and swimming down, then back up with the help of fins or a monofin.

At the time of the fateful dive last year, Mr Abu Haliqa, who was the UAE's sole representative in international freediving events, had been training for a prestigious global competition.

There were four other people with him on the boat, and the family had not been able to talk to those people about the circumstances of the dive.

Greek police have assumed that Mr Abu Haliqa drowned, said Hussain, who has travelled to the country on numerous occasions over the past year.

"Things are not going our way, but we are depending on Allah ... we will just wait and see where this will lead to, but we have to be hopeful," he said. "We accept anything that will come out, but until we see anything [concrete], we always have hope."

Hussain also talked of the family's attempts to attend to other duties despite the difficult situation.

"Life goes on, right?" he said. "It does not go on in the same way, of course: we have certain sadness because we are missing a loved one and we are waiting.

"There are many feelings which come but, at the end of the day, we depend on Allah and have strength from Him and continue and hope that something good will happen."

vtodorova@thenational.ae