'Emirati soldier embraced bullet for country'
Al Falasi's body being carried from the mosque.
Dubai - Family and friends bid tearful adieu to Yemen war martyr Saif Yousuf Al Falasi
He embraced the bullet for his country, said family members of 35-year-old Emirati non-commissioned officer Saif Yousuf Ahmad Al Falasi who lost his life in the ongoing Yemen war.
Al Falasi is the third UAE officer martyred in 'Operation Restoration of Hope', a Saudi-led military action against Yemen's Houthi rebels. Al Falasi was critically injured on the first day of Eid Al Fitr (July 17) after a bullet ricocheted from a wall and caused a fracture in his skull. He was given emergency aid but succumbed to his injuries at 3am on Tuesday. His family was informed about the death later in the morning.
"Saif was among the force that stormed a hideout of the rebels. He was hit by a bullet that bounced from a wall," said Mohammed Abdullah Al Midhani, the brother-in-law of the deceased.
He said his family was informed that Al Falasi was being taken for surgery. "We were assured about his health but later told that he had died clinically," he said. "The whole family had since been in deep prayers hoping he would recover."
Al Falasi's body arrived from Yemen at Al Buteen Airport in Abu Dhabi at 6pm on Tuesday and was sent to his home in Al Warqa 4 neighbourhood in Dubai. The funeral prayers were offered at the Alia Lootah Mosque after Isha prayers, after which he was laid to rest at Al Qusais Graveyard in Dubai.
His family, including his bereaved children, were surrounded by a large crowd of relatives and others who thronged the mosque next to his residence while waiting for the body when Khaleej Times visited the house on Tuesday.
Mouza, the nine-year-old eldest daughter of the deceased, was so overcome with grief that she was unable to talk about her father. His eight-year-old son, Abdullah, stammered when asked about the time he had spent with his father during holidays. He then burst into tears.
The deceased has one brother, Nasser, and is survived by five children, including Mouza, Abdullah and three others aged between two and nine years, who were said to be very close to their father.
The children said their father loved picnicing and often took them along on his tours.
One of Al Falasi's colleagues in the military service, which he joined in December 1995 in Dubai, said the officer had requested to be transferred to the private forces. He was strong-willed, determined, self-confident, devout and dedicated in all military drills, said the colleague.
"Youngsters were surprised at his physical ability to walk for a long time carrying the heavy military kit, and refusing assistance from friends," said the colleague.
"This ability he demonstrated throughout the intensive military training he attended for almost one and a half years," he added.
The colleague also said Al Falasi had spent four months in Saudi Arabia and returned home twice. "He spent a week at home on his first visit and three days during the holy month of Ramadan. He soon left for Yemen on being summoned to join his colleagues in the operation," he said.
Talking about his personal life, Al Midhani said that Al Falasi's parents are alive, but his mother is old and suffering from cancer.
"He was the breadwinner and took care of her medical treatment in the UAE and abroad. He provided her with whatever she needed," he said.
"Saif was a good-natured person, cheerful and lovable, and people always got close to him due to his joyful demeanour," said Al Midhani.
"Saif was also broad-minded, always welcoming and ready to help people with a smile," he added.
Al Falasi's Instagram page is a living testimony to his love for adventures such as camping, mountaineering, hunting and fishing. He often spent his leisure time travelling to the tough terrains of the UAE, it shows.
Al Falasi's children with other family members.