x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ambassador Al Suwaidi laid to rest

Ali Thani Al Suwaidi took up the position as the UAE's ambassador to The Netherlands in 2003. He died on Saturday.

The funeral of the UAE's Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ali Thani Al Suwaidi, at Al Sahaba Mosque in Sharjah on Monday.
The funeral of the UAE's Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ali Thani Al Suwaidi, at Al Sahaba Mosque in Sharjah on Monday.

SHARJAH // The body of Ali Thani Al Suwaidi, the UAE Ambassador to The Netherlands, has been laid to rest next to his family members in Sharjah cemetery.

Government officials, friends and relatives performed funeral prayers at Al Sahaba Mosque before the burial ceremony yesterday.

Mr Al Suwaidi, who died in Holland on Saturday, joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1977. He served in several countries in his 35-year career, including Switzerland, the US and Belgium.

He was appointed ambassador to South Africa in 1995 before taking up the position in The Netherlands in 2003.

Abdul Rahman Al Shamlan, the director of the Dubai office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one of Mr Al Suwaidi's oldest friends, was among the mourners.

The two had known each other since childhood and travelled to Cairo to study at university together in the mid-1970s.

"Back then Cairo was one of the most prestigious learning destinations in the world, and a degree from Cairo meant a lot," Mr Al Shamlan said.

"We stayed together in Cairo and after our studies we both started working for the Government."

The friends chose similar paths, taking careers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and on several occasions working in the same office in Geneva, said Mr Al Shamlan.

"I have a lot of memories and can not tell all of them, but I will tell you one thing: the UAE has lost an irreplaceable diplomat whose knowledge at work, dedication to this country and kindness as a person can not be matched."

Abdullah Al Suwaidi, Mr Al Suwaidi's nephew, said the ambassador, who did not have any children, would be greatly missed by his family and remembered as a kind and caring man.

"He was sick for some days until Allah decided to take him," he said. "We ask Allah to grant him the best paradise and bestow upon us patience at this time because missing him is going to be felt the rest of our lives."

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, offered his condolences to the family on Twitter.

"The deceased was a good example for his country. We pray that Allah accepts all his good work," Sheikh Abdullah said.

Mr Al Suwaidi graduated from the University of Cairo with a bachelor's degree in law. He also held a master's in international relations from Webster University in Geneva.

Apart from South Africa and The Netherlands, he worked in the UAE's permanent representation services in Geneva.

From there he was transferred to New York and also worked at the UAE Embassy in Brussels.

Gerard Michels, the Dutch Ambassador to the UAE, said The Netherlands had "lost a true friend".

"I was shocked to learn of the death of HE Ambassador Ali Thani Al Suwaidi," Mr Michels said.

"I have conveyed the personal condolences of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix.

"I met the ambassador on several occasions and he was always very helpful and friendly. He served for many years and with distinction, also as dean to the Diplomatic Corps in The Hague.

"Our sympathy goes out to his relatives and friends."

Mohammed Eissa, one of the administrators at Al Sahaba mosque in Sharjah, said: "I have been with him on several occasions praying for the dead in this very mosque, and can still remember about a year ago when we buried one of his family members.

"He was among those carrying the jannaza [body] to bring it forward for prayers.

"He was a kind and humble man who, despite his diplomatic nature, would always interact with everyone."

ykakande@thenational.ae