NAT 200503 PK Kareem Haji 1-1588492574825
PK Kareem Haji Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Indian community in Abu Dhabi is in shock after a social worker in the capital succumbed to COVID-19 last Thursday.

PK Kareem Haji, 62, a businessman in Abu Dhabi, former president of Abu Dhabi Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) and an active community worker with the Indian Islamic Centre, the Sunni Centre, among others, died of complications from COVID-19 on Thursday April 30, his family confirmed.

A native of Thiruvathra - (Thrissur District), Kerala, Haji was being treated at Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Hospital. Haji is said to have been at the hospital for nearly 10 days before succumbing to COVID-19.

He leaves behind a wife, and three sons, who are looking after his business.

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PK Hareem Haji Image Credit: Supplied

Haji's son, Mohammad Abdul Gafoor, confirmed his father died due to complications after contracting COVID-19.

“My father was a diabetic for 14-15 years," he said. "Two weeks ago he complained of fever, cough. We live in Mussafah and he went to our local doctor. He took a swab test and no sooner his result came positive, my father was shifted to Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi. His condition deteriorated unfortunately and the last two day he was put on ventilator.”

Gafoor said his father was a family man. “He leaves behind a wife, three sons and four grand-children. He was very attached to his grand-children. He was very protective of his family. We miss him so much."

Haji came to the UAE on February 20, 1974, said Gafoor.

“He started his career as a driver for UAE Airforce (Abu Dhabi).  Later he took up a business license to start his own supermarket in Mussafah,” added Gafoor.

Haji is said to have spearheaded a food campaign at the start of the pandemic outbreak in the UAE and was responsible for feeding over 1,000 people in need of food in the emirate following the UAE’s national sterilisation drive.

He also launched a food challenge programme and what started with feeding 25 people is now taking care of over 1,000 people’s needs. He is said to have been at the helm of working with restaurants to deliver daily meals to workers in the capital during the national sterilisation drive.

Meanwhile, friends and colleagues mourned the death of Haji – a man they said – who was full of love and warmth for the community at large.

Shukoor Ali Kallungan, Abu Dhabi KMCC President said: “We are in shock. Haji tested positive two weeks ago. His condition was pretty serious and he was put on ventilator. But on April 30 he died in the early hours of the morning at 12.36 am. The community is very sad.”

According to Kallungan, Haji’s charitable work included setting up educational institutes in Kerala for deserving children.

Askar Kasaragod said, “Haji helped build and take Abu Dhabi KMCC to the level it is today.”

During the first week of April, another well-known Indian social worker tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus in UAE. Naseer Vatanapally, a Kerala-native, responsible for helping residents with food supplies tested positive for the virus.

In an earlier interview with Gulf News, Vatanapally said he had been showing symptoms including a mild throat irritation for the past three to four days. A father to three children Vatanapally isolated himself from his family 20-days prior to falling sick and was living in a hotel. He has recovered and is back to doing social work.