x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Students hold tearful memorial for teen killed in Lamborghini crash

Students and staff gather at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi to remember Aya Hadir Ghais, described as 'filled with beautiful energy'.

Police believe Aya, pictured here with her cousin, was speeding when her sports car struck the kerb and flipped over. Courtesy Nader Farhat
Police believe Aya, pictured here with her cousin, was speeding when her sports car struck the kerb and flipped over. Courtesy Nader Farhat

ABU DHABI // Students and staff gathered at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi to remember a classmate and friend described as "filled with beautiful energy".

Aya Hadir Ghais, 19, a law and economics student at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, died on Saturday when her Lamborghini overturned and caught fire on the bridge to Reem Island.

Today, hundreds gathered at the university to pay tribute to Mrs Ghais.

Farah Chamma, an 18-year-old law student who met Mrs Ghais last year, choked back tears as she read a poem she wrote for her friend.

"I never understood death," Ms Chamma said. "But then again, when I think of life, I don't think I understand either.

"Days ago, you were here - most probably smiling, most probably telling a joke, spreading the joy that you have.

"And only then, when I think of all this, only then do my notions of life and death intermingle."

Against a backdrop of messages to Mrs Ghais in Arabic, English and French, students recounted memories of the girl known for her "great personality and loving heart".

"I will keep hoping that one day I will be half the person you were," Rama Al Hattab told the audience.

"We are pleased and we are happy that you are now in a place much better than this. You are now our guardian angel. You are my guardian angel.

"We will always love you, Aya. You will never leave my heart. Every time I smile, I know that you are smiling back at me."

On Sunday, the body of Mrs Ghais, who held Lebanese and American passports, was flown to Lebanon.

Police believe she was speeding when her sports car struck the kerb and flipped over. Bouquets of flowers appear daily at a shrine to the student just metres from the still-visible skidmarks on the barrier.

A collection of notes and memories will be sent to Mrs Ghais' family.

Law student Aurelien de Barnier did not know Mrs Ghais well, but wrote a note at the memorial, "because I can only imagine what her family is going through".

He said Mrs Ghais' death had hit the university community hard. "When it is someone you see in the cafeteria, in the classroom, in the dorms, it is difficult to take. This is a small community, and we are all suffering."

Ms Chamma tearfully told those gathered to remember the woman Mrs Ghais was, not how she died.

"You are more alive now than you were ever before," she said. "My dear, we are not gathered here for your death. No. It is your life that brings us all together."

jthomas@thenational.ae