Amena Rakkuson, better known as the "Mama" behind popular family-run Dubai Thai restaurant Sticky Rice, has died of Covid-19.
Rakkuson died on Sunday following Covid-19 complications, her family said in a statement posted on social media.
"It is with great sadness and with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dearly beloved Mama," a message posted on Instagram reads.
"With her passing, she has left an enormous void in our lives and we are absolutely devastated. But even though she was taken from us so suddenly we want to remember Mama for the amazing woman that she is because she was not only mama to us, she was Mama to everyone."
Last month, Sticky Rice management announced that they would be temporarily closing due to rising cases of Covid-19 in the UAE.
The restaurant has branches in Dubai's Jumeirah Village Circle and at Food District, The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah. Rakkuson and her son, Mo Abedin launched the restaurant in 2019.
Speaking to The National in January, co-owner Abedin said: "It was definitely a difficult decision, but doing the right thing always is. We love feeding the community and have been doing so since the pandemic started and we intend on continuing to do so well after it's gone.
"We believe in our community and we believe they trust in us and what we do, which gives us the confidence to make these kinds of decisions, because they have always been nothing but amazing and super supportive."
In order to try to remain safe for both staff and customers, Abedin says they took "every single possible precaution imaginable and advised to [them] by the DHA [Dubai Health Authority]. Masks, gloves, sanitising, deep cleans and residual disinfection."
Tributes to Amena Rakkuson
Rakkuson was a key part of the UAE's food scene and had been feeding Dubai's Thai community for more than 20 years.
Her family's tribute continues: "She was the brightest star that just radiated positivity when you were around her and she was always so committed and passionate about every single thing that she did.
"She was a humanitarian who loved to help people and would drop everything if she knew she could make a difference in someone’s life."
There were more than 100 comments of condolence on Instagram at the time of writing.