Dubai residents recount their scariest moments
Rohit Nair speaks to Dubai residents about their spookiest moments, and their accounts are sure to give you the chills this Halloween
I love a good horror movie as much as anyone else, but there's a bit of comfort - relative, of course - knowing that what's happening on screen is a figment of someone's creative imagination. Again, relatively. And for the most part - unless they're based on true stories, in which case, it just makes the flick that much more haunting - knowing that fact helps you sleep better at night. But what about true stories that happen to real people? True accounts always tend to leave a more lingering sense of creepiness, and these stories from people in Dubai will give you plenty of non-filmy scares for Halloween!
This happened when I was 15 years old, almost five years back. It had been a regular day - school, meeting with friends and all that - and I was getting ready for bed. After I lay down, I could feel like someone was walking over me. It was a very creepy feeling. At first, I thought it was just my legs going numb, like that weird thing that happens when your legs are tired. But it started to hurt and I could feel something really heavy was walking up towards me, on my body. I could hear strange noises, almost like screams, right next to my ears.
I turned to see if there was anything around, but there was nothing. I was really scared, but also, in my head, I kept thinking it was just a nightmare. I actually thought I was dreaming and that I'd wake up and all this would be a figment of my imagination. Just then, my mother came into the room and said, "It's OK dear, you're just having a nightmare. I'll pray for you and everything will be fine." Suddenly, all the creepy feelings went away and, after a while, I went back to sleep.
The next day, in the morning, I asked my mom how she knew I was having a nightmare the night before and why she came to my room. She just looked at me as though I was still dreaming. "What do you mean?" she asked me. So I told her about what happened the previous night and how she'd come to my bed and told me that she'd pray for me. She said, "I don't know what you're talking about, because I never came to your room. I was fast asleep." I still don't know if I was dreaming or whether I really did see my mother that night, but it was much more vivid than a dream and definitely felt real. It hasn't happened before and since, but it still makes me wonder to this day if I was alone that night.
In 2013, I was on holiday with some friends of mine in Sri Lanka. We were staying at this gorgeous place by a waterfall and we were quite pleased about the resort. The only problem was the eerie feeling I got about the place the minute I stepped out. I'm not sure how, but I've always had this sort of sixth sense and I could sense that the aura of the resort was very bad. I felt claustrophobic, despite being in such an open setting and in such luxurious rooms. I just knew something was not right. I told my friends we should leave, but they said that we'd already paid for it, so we were going to stay put.
That night, while lying in bed, I saw a silhouette of a man standing by the corner of the four-poster bed. I could see him so clearly - glowing eyes, long hair and wearing this robe-like outfit. I knew my mind wasn't just making it up. Of course, the next day, I was the first to be packed and ready to leave. I told my friends about it and they said that I was probably hallucinating and exhausted from the trip. We were only there for one night, and headed to another hotel in another hill station, some 200km away.
We checked in - this hotel had a much better aura and I felt so much safer and calmer here - and we were lounging about in the hotel, after dinner, when one of my friends reached out for my hand and stared at me. She told the others to leave, which, of course, they all thought was weird. But she insisted that she speak with me privately. Now, my friend is quite the clairvoyant, and we all know of her abilities, so I was a little worried. After my friends left, we just sat in silence for two minutes. Then she looked up at me and smiled and said, "Don't worry, they can't reach you." I asked her what she meant by 'they', and she just said, "Those around you. But don't worry, you have two guardian angel women protecting you," she said.
I told her I knew exactly who those women were. I had seen them before, and continue to see those women. It's my grandmother and my great aunt, both of whom loved me very much. My paternal grandmother died when I was just six and my great aunt died when I was 14. And when I see them, they look just like I remember them. I know that they're protecting me and I know that as long as they're around, I'll be safe.
As a horror filmmaker, I'm always on the lookout for supposedly haunted places in the UAE for ideas and inspiration. Probably one of the most talked about places with paranormal activity is Jazeera Al Hamra in Ras Al Khaimah, an abandoned fishing village that's rumoured to be infested with Djinns. Naturally, I had to check it out!
The first time I went there was this summer, around May, a little after midnight, and I drove deep into the village with some friends. I immediately felt uneasy, like danger was lurking, waiting for us (especially after hearing stories from some of the workers living there).
It was pitch black, and only the headlights of my car guided us through the area. I snapped a few pictures of the location and soon returned home, assuming nothing was very different about the place except maybe for the really creepy atmosphere. But things weren't the same the second time we went there.
Some days later, I went with just two friends (much less company than the first time, when we went in a car full of people) for a second recce. Immediately, it felt a lot more isolated and I could tell that something didn't feel quite right. I was keen to show the area to my friends, who hadn't been there before, so we pressed on, further into the village. We parked our car with the lights on near a building pillar and walked inside, exploring the abandoned structures. The silence was deafening and all of us felt like leaving because it just felt like a place we shouldn't linger too long in.
But this couldn't have been clearer than when we came back to my car. As we approached my car, I noticed something very different about the pillar I had parked it next to. Something terrifyingly different. There was a handprint on the pillar. And not just a handprint - it was a handprint etched into the cement itself, like a deep impression. I asked both my friends and we could swear it wasn't there when we arrived because, the way we parked, that would have been the first thing we would have seen.
We immediately took it as a warning sign to get out of there and we did so as quickly as we could. But before we left, I snapped a picture of the pillar and the handprint (pictured) so I could prove what we saw was real. I haven't been there since to check if that print is still there or not, but we were definitely scared after the experience.
When I was 17, my friends and I decided to check out a haunted house in Lebanon. It was sort of an urban legend and people always talked about the haunted house at the top of the hill. It may sound clichéd, but it was a really creepy house. We heard stories from people about the family that used to live in that house - they experienced strange things, like lights turning on and off on their own, the washing machine starting up by itself, things moved around. They moved from that house and the house has been on sale ever since.
On the night we went to check out the house - a group of friends and I - we were hoping to debunk the scary stories. When we approached the house, there were no lights on and there was just a tiny, narrow window on one side of the house, barely big enough for a small child to fit through. We entered the property and tried to open the door, but it wouldn't open. It felt as though someone was pushing back against the door. Eventually, all of us put our weight into it and the door opened wide enough for us to enter.
What we saw still gives me goosebumps. There was a heavy couch that was pressed against the door, blocking the entry. The lights were all on, although we had just seen that there were no lights on when we approached the house. On the floor, there was a stick - like the stick you attach to a broom or a mop - that was standing upright. We pushed it and it fell, but we were already so terrified we all just ran away.
And then we began to ask the questions - who put that stick there? And how did they manage to push the couch in front of the door and turn on the lights, when there was no way to enter the house except through the front door (that window we saw was just too small)? And who would still be living in a house that has been for sale for nearly 30 years and remains that way till today? I haven't been back to see that house, but I still get scared every time I tell someone this story.