Kalba: Khalifa Al Kaabi, the hero student who rescued his classmates after their bus caught fire in Kalba on Tuesday was visited at his school by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on Wednesday.
In a video, which has since gone viral on social media, Shaikh Mohammad can be seen walking inside the school with Khalifa and meeting the 12-year-old’s classmates, who were also on board the bus when the fire broke out.
Shaikh Mohammad was touring schools in the Eastern region of Sharjah to follow up on the start of the school year.
“I made sure to visit the hero student Khalifa Abdullah Al Kaabi,” Shaikh Mohammad said. “He is the pride of his generation and his courage reflects our inherent values. We thank him for saving his classmates when their school bus caught fire.”
Three students including Khalifa were on board the bus at the time of the incident, said Al Kaabi.
After the driver had collected the boy from his home he alerted the driver to smoke that was coming out from under the bus. When the driver went to look beneath the bus he couldn’t see anything unusual, so kept driving.
After a few seconds the bus burst into flames and Al Kaabi pushed his classmates out the door before calling 999 using the driver’s phone to alert emergency services.
Khalifa, a grade seven student in Al Al Qudwa Elementary School in Kalba, told Gulf News on Wednesday that he was very happy that Shaikh Mohammad had come to visit him.
“I feel proud about what happened today,” he said. “I had always wished to meet Shaikh Mohammad. He advised me to be good role model for society.
“He was talking to me about the incident and asked me to tell him how it happened,” added Khalifa, who is among the Al Nukhba students in his school, which means ‘smart’ and highest performing. He also wants to be either a pilot or an inventor when he grows up.
Khalifa’s father Abdullah told Gulf News, “Today is the happiest day in my life.”
He cried when talking about the moment his only son, the second youngest of four children, met Shaikh Mohammad, and said there was no words to describe the feeling.
“Parents Should educate their children and train them how to behave in emergency situations,” said Abdullah. “I was not surprised that my son did such a thing, because he always asked about emergency numbers, especially when he finds them pasted on walls in malls and other places.”
Major General Jassim Mohammad Al Marzouqi, UAE Civil Defence Commander in Chief also visited the school and honoured Khalifa with valuable gifts. The boy was also honoured by representatives from Sharjah Police.
Shaikh Mohammad has since directed Emirates Transport to enroll school bus drivers in firefighter training in collaboration with UAE Civil Defence, as a result of the incident, and underlined that student safety is a top priority.
During the visit to schools in the Eastern Region, Shaikh Mohammad also highlighted the importance of education as a key pillar of the UAE’s development.
“Education is our means to reach the desired position,” said Shaikh Mohammad. “The nation’s glory and prestige cannot be achieved except by our youth’s possession of knowledge. We want younger generations to be equipped with knowledge and to keep abreast of scientific advancement and the latest developments worldwide,” he added.
He underlined the need to continue developing school curricula in keeping pace with global developments, and stressed the important role of schools as the cornerstone of the development of new generations.