Dubai: The family of six-year-old Emirati Hamad Abdullah Al Ali buried him on Monday after funeral prayers were held at the Al Sahaba Mosque in Sharjah.
Al Ali drowned after falling from a boat in Egypt on Friday. His body was found on Sunday, according to the Media Department of Egypt's Ministry of Interior.
Speaking to Gulf News on Sunday, devastated father Abdullah Al Ali described how the tragedy unfolded during a family boat trip on the Nile.
Little Hamad fell from the boat near Al Maadi area in Cairo and was found 30km away from there by a fisherman near Shubra Al Khaimah, Al Qalyubeya.
The Sharjah-based family were on a holiday in Egypt when the incident took place.
Hamad was the youngest of four children, with two sisters and a brother.
Al Ali told Gulf News about the chain of events that led to the devastating accident.
He said: “We were on vacation in Egypt since August 24. On Friday we were invited to a Nile cruise with two other families. There were about 15 people on the boat, not including the crew members.”
The family had rented a small powerboat, known as a flouka in Egypt, from a fish market in Al Maadi.
Al Ali said: “There are small tourists boat that you can rent for a few hours.
“The families were having a great time. On our way back, Hamad was sitting near the railing when the boat shook and he lost his balance and fell off the boat.
“We were moving against the current, so when he fell he went away very fast.
“The boat had no safety measures; the seating was just right by the railing.
“I wanted to jump after him but the boat’s crew stopped me.
“They told me if I dive into the Nile’s strong currents, I would be swept away too.”
The captain instead agreed to head back to the place were Hamad fell.
“We went back minutes later but it was around 8pm and it was dark and we could not see anything at all.”
The family called the Egyptian Police emergency number when the accident happened.
Al Ali said that they arrived after two hours and the rescue team arrived four hours later.
“The boat had no rescue equipment at all, and when the rescue team arrived, they too were not well equipped,” he said.
He said that they searched for a while and they came back the next morning.
“We called the Foreign Ministry of the UAE for help. The Consul arrived within an hour from the UAE’s Embassy in Egypt, and they also sent us a rescue team from the UAE to help the Egyptian team.” Al Ali said.
Relatives of the family said that Hamad’s family is thankful to Shaikh Abullah Bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, as he personally called the father and followed up the case with him until the boy’s body was found.
“Hamad’s elder brother Mohammad sought help from Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed through his Twitter account after his brother drowned and the Egyptian authorities could not find the body,” one of their relatives in the UAE said.
None of the rescue teams were able to find the body, and it was found by an Egyptian fisherman in Shubra Al Khaimah, Al Qalyubeya, on Sunday morning.
A police source said that the UAE rescue team consisted of 28 divers from various nationalities, including Emirati, Egyptian and Tunisian. They were headed by Major Omar Saeed Al Daheri.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Interior in Egypt said the body was moved to the Nasser Institute for Research and Treatment until the Public Prosecution releases permission for burial.
Al Ali said all the paperwork has been completed and that the entire family was coming back to lay Hamad to rest in his home country.
Grieving relatives were last night busy preparing for the funeral in Sharjah.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Bin Nakhira Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to Egypt, thanked the Egyptian authorities for their cooperation during the search operation. "We thank them for the efforts and for the facilities extended," Al Dhaheri said.