UAE residents stuck in rain get help from strangers, thanks to WhatsApp group

The group became a hub for coordination within hours with participants sharing contact information and locations of available accommodations


Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Tue 16 Apr 2024, 11:43 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Apr 2024, 4:10 PM

Filipina sales executive Angel feared the worst when he and his 8-month pregnant partner, Bella, found themselves stranded for 7 hours in Al Barsha after Tuesday's heavy rainfall. "Bella was in acute distress, and I wondered what I would do if she went into labour," Angela recalled.

With Metro services unexpectedly halted and no alternative transportation available to take them to their residence in Al Jafiliya, the couple attempted to check into a hotel but found them packed to capacity.

Angel described their despair turning to relief when help arrived from an unexpected source past midnight: a member of a Rain Support WhatsApp group offered to host them at his residence in Business Bay.

The support group, established by Aslam, an Indian expat in Sharjah, quickly gained momentum, with many benefiting from the collective effort. Within hours of its creation, it became a central hub for coordination, with participants sharing contact information and locations of available accommodations.

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Bella expressed her surprise and gratitude upon reaching the family's two-bedroom apartment near Business Bay Metro Station with Angel, knowing it was thanks to a Rain Support WhatsApp group member.

Angel with Bella
Angel with Bella

"They were already sheltering four other stranded individuals, yet they welcomed us into their home with open arms," said Angel. "Their kindness made all of us feel instantly at ease. Despite the late hour, they offered us food and water and arranged mattresses, ensuring our comfort throughout the night. And to wake up to a warm breakfast the next morning was truly a godsend."

The next morning, as the group posed for a picture, Sandip from Nepal and Mohammad Shareef and Wasim Baig from India shared their journey, detailing the challenges of walking several kilometres to reach the accommodation.

Bell and Angel with Wasim Baig, Mohammed Sharif and Sandip who were hosted by a family in Business Bay
Bell and Angel with Wasim Baig, Mohammed Sharif and Sandip who were hosted by a family in Business Bay

"We got blisters on our feet," Shareef said, recalling his 17-kilometer trek from Dubai Internet City Metro Station, often wading through waist-deep waters. Wasim Baig, stranded at Dubai Mall Metro Station, described the scene he witnessed, with scores of families, including elderly couples, women, and children, all stranded and desperately trying to book taxis that were nowhere to be found.

Several heartwarming instances of people offering help to strangers unfolded within the support group. Electrical engineer Krishna Kumar extended a helping hand by offering his teenage daughter's room at their Discovery Gardens apartment to three Indian bachelors stranded at the Ibn Battuta Metro Station.

Krishna Kumar and his family with Abein, Renjith and Arjun at Discover Gardens
Krishna Kumar and his family with Abein, Renjith and Arjun at Discover Gardens

Kumar, who had walked 7 kilometres from his Media City office to reach home around midnight, quickly responded to the plight of the men upon being alerted and offered them assistance without hesitation. "This is the least I could do, and it's just the right thing. We're all in this together, and helping each other out is just part of being human," said Kumar.

Aslam, who founded the Rain Support Group, said it is truly remarkable to witness the outpouring of support from the community.

"This is more than just generosity; it's a testament to the spirit of togetherness that defines the UAE. We're not just helping strangers; we're showing them what it means to be part of our extended family here," he said.

Messages offering assistance and seeking guidance continued to pour in until late morning. One woman posted, "Can we travel by car from Business Bay to the airport to help a friend stuck at GGICO metro station? Please suggest about road conditions." A member responded, "Use Al Khail Road and take the Deira Garhoud exit."

A woman sought help for her husband trapped in his car on Al Wahda Street in Sharjah, while another family sought assistance for their stranded family near DIFC with a 20-day-old baby.

In another instance, late at midnight, a daughter posted about her father, Nazeer, who is diabetic and stuck near the Metropolitan Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. "He has not managed to get any food and is feeling tired. If anyone around that area could provide him with something to eat," she pleaded.

Alongside offering places to stay, residents in the group also arranged free rides for families in need, making sure they got to safety despite the challenging conditions.


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