'Most difficult hours': Parents of UAE children who went missing recall horror

The parents empasised that their relationship with their children has grown stronger and more affectionate since the incident

by

Waad Barakat

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Published: Wed 8 May 2024, 2:51 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 May 2024, 11:28 PM

"It was the most difficult 30 hours for me and my family."

"I felt like I wanted to die when I lost my boy."


This is how some UAE families spoke of the agony and horror of finding out their child was missing. Thankfully, the children returned home safely. The parents empasised that their relationship with their children has grown stronger and more affectionate since the incident.

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Dan's (name changed on request) 18-year-old autistic son disappeared during a shopping trip with his mother and sister to City Centre Sharjah on February 18.

His parents and the Sharjah Police conducted an intensive search.

“He was missing for 30 hours. It was the most difficult 30 hours for me and my family,” said Dan.

To his family's immense relief, the teenage boy was finally located in Dubai Airport's Terminal 1 departure area though it remains a mystery how he reached there.

His father suspects his son may have walked all the way despite pain in his legs.

The traumatic experience made Dan and his family realise they cannot go through this again. “Our boy is special needs and does not realise the enormity of what happened. We want to make sure this never happens again. We now have a tracking device that has a SIM card to track him," he told Khaleej Times.

Since the joyful reunion, Dan said he has a deeper emotional connection with all his children, especially the teenage boy. "I'm very emotionally connected with him now. Also, our bond is stronger than before with all our children,” he added

Dan's son was found because of an Indian passenger's vigilance travelling to Kuwait. The passenger recognised the missing boy from a post on social media and promptly contacted the family.

Some families, however, have not been as fortunate. A 17-year-old boy from Ajman, who was missing for almost three weeks, was found dead last week.

Seeking help and support

Ali Khair, a Sharjah resident, spared no effort in his search mission when his 17-year-old son, Mohammad Abdullah, went missing on April 14. He not only visited the police multiple times but also scouring all places that his son used to frequent. ''

Eecalling the harrowing experience, Ali said “I felt like I wanted to die when I lost my boy."

The Pakistani expat said that when his son went missing after he went to fetch a carpenter from the nearby furniture market for repairs, he did not stop his search efforts at filing a report to the police.

“I searched every place where I thought my boy would’ve gone. I walked to all the places he used to hang out, showed his pictures to people. I think that day I gave my phone to over 100 people on the street just in case someone had spotted him,” said Ali.

His worries were compounded by the heavy rains that the country experienced just two days after Abdullah went missing. "The heavy rains made us more concerned. We felt he could be stranded somewhere and was unable to escape," he said.

As everyone struggled with the flooding, the anguished father tried to reach out to the media, including Khaleej Times, to spread the word about his missing son.

The teenager was found almost a week later. “I have never pressured him since then, I was just so happy that he is back. I understand some parents would have been angry. (But) I am very thankful that we found him healthy and in good spirits," said Ali.

The UAE's authorities have urged parents to be gentle while dealing with their children. Some cases of children leaving home at will have also been reported in the country. Recently a 14-year-old boy was found begging near a mosque after he ran away from home, following his parents' divorce. Dubai Police had returned the child to his mother following an investigation.

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