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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Emirati tells of violent attack on upmarket London street

Abdullah Al Hosani was struck a dozen times in the head when he tried to tackle man spotted spray painting abuse onto luxury cars

In this video screen grab, Emirati student Abdullah Al Hosani struggles with a man dressed in military fatigues on Brompton Street in London. He challenged the suspect after spotting him spray painting luxury cars in the street.
In this video screen grab, Emirati student Abdullah Al Hosani struggles with a man dressed in military fatigues on Brompton Street in London. He challenged the suspect after spotting him spray painting luxury cars in the street.

An Emirati student living in London has described the moment he was struck in the head a dozen times while trying to stop a man was spraying graffiti onto luxury cars.

Abdullah Al Hosani, 31, became involved in a struggle when he stopped his 4x4 close to the Harrods department store in Knightsbridge and challenged the suspect.

The assault on Saturday evening was captured on video and widely shared on social media.

Mr Al Hosani told The National that the man was spraying 'war' and what is thought to have been an intended sectarian slur onto vehicles with Gulf-registered plate numbers on London's busy Brompton Road.

“I saw a man in a black mask, spray painting messages like 'war' and 'Ali' on cars with plate numbers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE,” he said in reference to the revered religious figure.

“I drove close to him and he didn’t notice that I was behind because he was spray painting the car in front of me."

Mr Al Hosani then reached out of the window of his white Mercedes G-Wagen and grabbed the suspect with two arms.

“I wanted to keep him in place until I could get the police to come,” said the Coventry University business administration student, who has lived in the UK for three years.

He said the the suspect then started to viciously hit Mr Al Hosani on the head with the spray can, on footage captured by a passer-by.

With blood streaming down his face, Mr Al Hosani said: “You can hit me as long as you want, I’ll will not let go of you.”

Mr Al Hosani said he managed to step on the pedal and inched the car close to the other vehicle, trapping the suspect between his car and the one parked in front.

“He actually asked me to please call the police and said he was done,” Mr Al Hosani said.

“I never once laid a finger on him,” he said, adding that he was worried his attacker could claim he was to blame.

"If I had hit him back then I too would be questioned and investigated and maybe charged with assault.

“The United Kingdom is a country that respects and follows law, there was no need for me to lay a finger on him."

Mr Al Hosani said he pulled off the suspect's mask and that an employee at a restaurant nearby ran out and helped to hold the suspect while police were called.

He said the suspect continued to try to kick him until police arrived.

Mr Al Hosani was sent to a nearby hospital and was released four hours later.

“The injuries are minor. I have a strong head like most Emiratis. We get hit a lot on the head,” he laughed.

“The embassy immediately contacted me and Foreign Affairs [ministry] asked if I was okay and if I needed security but I declined.

“London is safe and nothing in my life will change after this incident.”

Scotland Yard detectives said a man in his 20s appeared in Westminster Magistrate’s court on Monday charged with assault and criminal damage in relation to Saturday night’s incident.

Local shop owners and businessmen were shocked to hear of the attack as they opened for business on Monday.

Ahmed Abid, an Iraqi-born hairdresser who works in a salon on Brompton Road, said his Middle East customers saw the attack on social media and contacted him asking whether they will be safe in London. Mr Abid spent Monday morning reassuring his out-of-town clients that London is open for business.

“They are scared. But I cannot say ‘don’t come to London’”, Mr Abid said. “This is Knightsbridge. This is the heart of London. This is a five-star area - an Arab area with people from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar - everybody comes here in the summer after Ramadan. But if this continues happening, they won’t come. They will go to Spain. Or America. Or Germany. They will go to other countries.”

Akrim Knin, a local businessman, said police must step up security in the Knightsbridge area, a wealthy enclave in west London where two-bedroom flats sell for upwards of £4 million and customers wearing £100,000 watches spend large sums in high-end shops. Shisha cafes, Mercedes SUVs and nightclubs line the streets.

“Nobody can believe that in Knightsbridge, opposite Harrods, they see these rubbish people. This shouldn’t be in England. We don’t need people like that. The police come and get the CCTV but they need to do more. They need to show there is security,” said Mr Knin, originally from Tunisia.