Meet UAE expat who rescued 8 people from fire, became wheelchair-bound

She received the Abu Dhabi Award personally from President Sheikh Mohamed for her heroic actions

by

Waad Barakat

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Photos: WAM
Photos: WAM

Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 10:03 PM

In a devastating fire that engulfed a residential building in the Khalidiya area back in 2022, Imen Sfaxi's first instinct was to jump in and help people, utilising her first aid expertise and quick thinking. Her bravery saved eight people in a fire caused by a pipeline explosion. However, a second explosion occurred while she provided aid, causing severe injuries that left her wheelchair-bound.

For her heroic actions, the Tunisian expat and Abu Dhabi resident recently received the Abu Dhabi Award personally from President Sheikh Mohamed.


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The fire that broke out on May 23, 2022 resulted in the destruction of a large part of the building. Despite being advised to stay home, she disregarded her own safety and rushed to the scene. When she witnessed people struggling and desperately needing assistance, she started by evacuating people from the scene while applying first aid to others.


In a video shared by Abu Dhabi Awards, Sfaxi's husband, Sami Messaoudi, shared his admiration for her courageous act. "I asked her to stay home, but she rushed to help people. It was a call from God that told her to take a bucket of water and get there and help them."

"In this situation, she didn't stand still. Her instinct to help others made her take on this remarkable role," added Dr Saif Juma Al Dhaheri, a spokesperson for The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), praising Sfaxi's quick thinking and selflessness.

The video also featured Sfaxi's friends and loved ones who rallied around her. Amira Zeddini, a close friend, said: "We were deeply concerned about her well-being after the incident. It took approximately two or three hours to know what happened to her and whether she was among the injured."

Zeddini asked Sfaxi "if she regrets it" following the incident. "No," was Sfaxi's simple repsonse. Despite her condition and the challenges she now faces, she expressed no regret for her actions. "Whether Imen is in a wheelchair or not, she will remain the Imen I know,” Zeddini said.

The 11th edition of the Abu Dhabi Awards, which took place on April 19, saw seven other individuals awarded, along with Sfaxi, for their contributions to the community.

They were honoured for the impact they had on a variety of fields, such as education, sustainability, medicine, humanitarian relief, community awareness, and empowerment of People of Determination.

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