'We are still smiling': Grieving Gaza survivors in UAE mark first Eid without family killed in war

KT joined the wounded Palestinians and their companions at Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi


Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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KT Photos: Shihab
KT Photos: Shihab

Published: Sun 14 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 14 Apr 2024, 11:17 PM

It was a bittersweet Eid Al Fitr celebrations for Palestinians in the UAE rescued from Gaza. Abdulrahman Alurdi, an 80-year old cancer patient who survived but lost 12 of his children in the war, summed it up: “We are smiling and laughing from all the pain, hopelessness and misery.”

“The festive occasion should have been celebrated with friends and family, but we’ve lost many of them,” he told Khaleej Times, adding: “We were still able to celebrate Eid but it also served as a reminder of the loved ones we’ve lost.”

“We highly appreciate what the UAE has done for us and is continuing to do for us. Eid has always been with my sons and daughters. But today, I am with none of them. We are trying to enjoy what you the UAE have organised for us, but it has been hard without my children,” added Abdelrahman Al Kurdi.

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‘You treated us like this is our home’

Under the directives President Sheikh Mohamed, thousands of wounded and sick refugees were evacuated from Gaza. The wounded Palestinians and their companions are currently residing at Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi.

Fida Mahmood Awad and son Amir Muneer Awad
Fida Mahmood Awad and son Amir Muneer Awad

Khaleej Times joined the Eid Al Fitr celebration. Bright and colourful decorations were set-up; joyful lights brightened the mood and children were participated in various games and activities.

Yusra Shaat.
Yusra Shaat.

“We are away from our home and away from our family, but the UAE have always treated us like this is our home and you (UAE) are our family,” noted Yusra Shaat, an elderly woman who battling pancreatic cancer.

“This Eid has reminded us of all those happy memories we had with our loved ones before the war made us sad. Thank you UAE, you are always trying to make us happy – and this means the world for us,” she added.

Feda Mahmood, a 30-year-old mother and cancer patient, however, has one fervent request: “Please bring also my husband here. I have no one left except him. And I fear losing him too in Gaza.”

Sahar Jamal, a 26-year-old mother from Gaza, added: “My house was destroyed and my husband was martyred. I came here with my three-year-old daughter who is going to have an open-heart surgery. But I had to leave my one-year-old son. I think of him every second. I hope he too can be here.

‘No more bombs but dances’

The Israeli-Hamas war has been raging for six months now, and the death toll among Palestinians has reached more 34,000 people. But at the Humanitarian City, the sound of bombs were replaced by the wonderful music and dances. Clowns entertained the kids and they were running not to escape but to play and be merry.

Majid al Futtaim and other partners of the Humanitarian City set up a large outdoor cinema, while Magic Planet arranged a mini entertainment centre, as well as sports and games for children to celebrate Eid.

The recent Eid Al Fitr has proved that children will always be children – and with a cheerful mood, they enjoyed the games and laughed without worries. “This was everything I ever wished for,” said Qais, a Palestinian child who lost his leg during one of the heavy bombardments by Israeli forces.

“We are grateful to the UAE. We are safe. We have healthcare and education. But I hope one day, life will return to normal in Gaza,” added another mother carrying her two babies.


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