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This UK boy with 25 life-saving surgeries is UAE’s biggest fan

Saman Haziq /Dubai
saman@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 19, 2021
Mohammed Naseem seen during his various trips to the UAE. Supplied Photo

The teenager has flown to the UAE a total of 26 times.


Nothing brings 16-year-old Naseem Mohammed more happiness than visiting the UAE.

After the UK removed the UAE from its red list, the UK national choked with emotion when his Emirates plane touched down at Dubai International Airport on August 15.

Mohammed, born and raised in the UK, calls himself the biggest fan of the UAE. He has had around 25 life- saving surgeries since birth for various complications. Still, he manages to visit the UAE at least a couple of times every year.

To him, it’s therapeutic, but his father Sam Ali told Khaleej Times that the UAE is the only place his son wants to visit during a break or vacation.

Naseem has flown to the UAE a total of 26 times since his father first introduced him to the country in 2008 after he underwent a number of surgeries.

“After all the trauma and medical problems we have been through, we thought why not go to Dubai as a family to recover and have a holiday.

Naseem was only four when he visited Dubai and fell in love with the UAE so much so that every single year, he comes here multiple times. The UAE and its people left a lasting impression on him and he just couldn’t get the UAE out of his head.

Since then, Naseem visits the UAE at least twice a year and sometimes even three of four times,” his father Sam said.

Surgery after surgery

Talking about his son’s operations and medical issues, Sam said: “My brave boy has had 26 operations since he was born and I must say he is lucky to be alive. He was born without a bottom, so that was the first surgery he underwent at the time he was born. When he was three months, we were told he had a hole in his heart; when he was three weeks old, we were told he had vision issues; when he was four months old, we found out his liver wasn’t working, so he needed a liver transplant else he wouldn’t survive. He got his liver transplant when he was nine months old. While these were the major ones, he has had several other supporting surgeries.”

Naseem’s last surgery was in 2017, when his main port of vein that takes blood from the liver to the rest of the body, was blocked.

“Before the surgery, he was told to think about some good memories before they put him to sleep. And all he said was ‘Dubai’. We were all shocked that after the nine-hour surgery, when he gained consciousness, he woke up saying ‘Dubai. I want to go to Dubai’. My boy literally willed himself to recover and get better so he could visit the UAE again and again, and eventually shift here after completing his studies. He lives and survives to come to Dubai,” Sam said.

UAE keeps him going

Sam said coming to the UAE has become a bit of a “survival strategy” for Naseem as nothing excites or bring him more happiness than flying in Emirates airlines and visiting Dubai.

“We have been advised by his doctors that being happy and cheerful will help him recover soon and keep him healthy for a longer time. And we know nothing makes him more happy than travelling on Emirates and visiting UAE,” he said.

Naseem was unable to travel to the UAE for almost a year after Covid struck, but finally made it earlier this year in January.

“I was constantly checking and waiting for flights to the UAE to open this time after the UAE was placed on UK’s red list. I was miserable and was waiting for the status to change and when the announcement came, I booked the entire family’s ticket for the UAE in the next hour via Emirates. I always fly Emirates when I come to the UAE,” Naseem told Khaleej Times.

Naseem said he loves to document all his flight tickets, visas of the UAE and has hundreds of pictures documenting his trips to the UAE since 2008. He also has a big collection of Emirates plane models back home in the UK — about 120 different ones.

Talking about his son’s fascination with Emirates, Sam said: “Back in the UK, we stay close to Heathrow Airport, so at least thrice a week, I take Naseem near the airport so he could watch his favourite airline Emirates take off and land.”

Asked what he loves about the UAE, Naseem said he is in awe of Emirates airlines, the country’s infrastructure, architecture of buildings, lifestyle of the people, cleanliness, safety and security of the country, lively atmosphere, halal food and its adventurous Crown Prince Fazza (Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai).

Sam said his son intends to move to the UAE and live here permanently after completing his studies in the UK.

saman@khaleejtimes.com

Saman Haziq





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