Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Yemeni artists pay tribute to Emirati martyrs with portrait collection

Among those honoured is Lt Abdulaziz Al Kaabi, the first Emirati soldier to die in Yemen

A portrait is painted to remember Emirati martyr Lieutenant Abdulaziz Al Kaabi. Courtesy: Summer Baobaid
A portrait is painted to remember Emirati martyr Lieutenant Abdulaziz Al Kaabi. Courtesy: Summer Baobaid

Yemeni artists paid tribute to Emirati soldiers who died liberating their towns and cities in a show of gratitude for UAE National Day.

Murals covered the walls of a district of Aden, portraying the faces of UAE servicemen who gave their lives since 2015.

Summer Baobaid, 29, an architect, and her sister Shada, 27, a graphic designer, said the faces and names found a place in the consciousness of Aden's people.

They left their loved ones behind and came to Yemen to pay with their lives to restore our country

Summer Baobaid

One portrays Lt Abdulaziz Al Kaabi, the first Emirati to die in Yemen, in July 2015.

“They died to grant us life and peace,” Summer told The National as she painted Lt Al Kaabi's portrait in the Mualla neighbourhood of Aden.

He and his comrades were sent to Aden to join the Saudi-led Coalition forces who fought to take back the city from Iran-backed Houthis. The rebels overthrew the government months before.

“He was smart and brave," Summer said. "He was the first UAE serviceman who laid down his life to clear our city.

"They aren’t ordinary people. They left their loved ones behind and came to Yemen to pay with their lives to restore our country.”

She said the people of her neighbourhood would teach their children about the liberation.

Summer and her brother Obeid drawing the martyrs portraits on a wall in Al-Mualla city in Aden. Courtesy Summer Baobeid
Summer and her brother Obeid draw martyrs' portraits. Courtesy: Summer Baobaid

“I want to tell the families of the UAE’s heroes that our hearts are constantly with them," Summer said.

"We always pray for them and we will teach the coming generations about the ultimate sacrifice made."

Summer, Shada and their younger brother Obeid, 24, are known for their drawings and graffiti depicting the conflict.

They said they had been threatened by Al Qaeda militants for showing their support for the Coalition.

In late 2015, the three drew a mural to remember the 50-plus Emiratis killed in an attack on Marib on September 4.

“At the beginning, they used to erase our drawings and leave their threats for us," Summer said.

"Then a year ago, gunmen in a minibus shot at my brother while he was drawing in Khormaksar city in Aden.

“My brother left Aden for Sudan because we felt that his life isn’t safe. Me and my sister wear veils so they will not be able to identify us."

Since then, six 100-strong counter-terrorism forces trained by the UAE have stamped out Al Qaeda and brought safety to the streets.

The UAE redeployed most of its troops in Yemen in late October, with some still conducting counter-terrorism operations and supporting humanitarian and development work.

Updated: December 4, 2019 02:32 AM

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