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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Emirati woman describes saving man from burning truck

Almost a month after saving a man from a burning truck, Jawaher Al Kumaiti says she has yet to come to terms with her overnight fame.

The 22-year-old Emirati spring-boarded into national consciousness after using an abaya to extinguish an Indian driver who had caught fire after colliding with another truck.

Ms Al Kumaiti has repeatedly said she only did what anyone else would do in such a situation and has since grown uncomfortable with the media attention she received for what she considered to be a basic act. But that night, she said, no one else stepped forward to help.

“Everyone was watching and doing nothing,” she said.

The man was engulfed in flames and screaming, an image she said she would never forget. “I couldn’t sleep that night and couldn’t go to work the next day.”

After putting out the flames and covering him with the abaya, Ms Al Kumaiti sat with the man in attempts to calm him down, gave him some water and left as soon as the ambulance arrived.

“The whole time he was screaming in pain and repeating in Arabic that he was going to die,” she said.

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed praises Emirati woman who saved life of truck driver

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Ms Al Kumaiti returned to her home and tried to forget the ordeal but a week later her story went viral on social media and she became a household name.

“My friend contacted me a week later and told me that the police were looking for me. I asked her why and she told me it was because they posted on social media that they were looking for the girl who saved the Indian’s man life. I didn’t even know that anyone noticed,” she said.

Since then Ms Al Kumaiti has been honoured more than 14 times, most notably by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, receives Jawaher Saif Al Kumaiti. Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, receives Jawaher Saif Al Kumaiti. Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi

“I wasn’t seeking fame and I don’t think I deserve all of this. The whole point of it all is that if you see a soul suffering, be it a dog or cat, try to save it.”

That wasn’t Ms Al Kumaiti’s first good deed but she said she refuses to discuss her other acts of kindness. “I don’t think we should do good deeds and publicise it,” she said.

Her mother, Khuloud Saleh said her daughter’s actions did not surprise her.

“I am so proud of her but I wasn’t surprised when I found out. Jawaher was always independent and strong. She always wants to help people and do the right thing,”

Ms Saleh sees a bright future ahead for her daughter who currently works at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

“I would like her to be an ambassador and a role model to young Emiratis. I would love her to continue in the field of social work and helping other people. She makes us all so proud.”

Though the overnight success has been stressful, she said it came as part of helping others in need.

“My daughter ran to a scene of an accident and did not think of her own safety. While putting out the flames she could have caught on fire but it was more important for her to save the man’s life than think of her own safety. What parent wouldn’t be proud,” she said.

Ms Al Kumaiti’s act of heroism is now being retold at different schools to children.