RAS AL KHAIMAH // In the small Ras Al Khaimah town of Sha’am, a community still mourns a hero on the first anniversary of his death.
First Lt Tariq Al Shehi, an Emirati policeman, had been deployed in Bahrain when an improvised bomb exploded, killing him and two others.
His death touched the hearts of Emiratis across the country, as hundreds of mourners filled his family home, spilling out on to the streets for his funeral.
Tariq’s mother, who is known as Umm Tariq, said: “The outpouring of support the whole country has shown us during the last year decreased the pain of our family.
“I have to praise the noble stance the leaders have shown us but a mother’s heartache still lives on. His place is dearly missed.
“The day I heard the news of his death was an indescribable day that I hope no mother would go through.”
Tariq, 41, founded the Sha’am Community Council, a majlis that fostered relations in the community and addressed its issues.
Its members still meet nightly a few steps away from his home.
Tariq left behind two sons, Mohammed and Ahmed, and two daughters, Fajer and Fatima.
He also had seven siblings – Aysha, Khalid, Ali, Maryam, Khlood, Omar, Rashid and Alia.
After his father’s death, Tariq took care of his family and nephews.
“He was the essence of our family and filled our house with laughter. He liked to barbecue, cook and take care of others,” said his sister, Aysha Al Shehi.
“He had a benevolent soul that extended far beyond our family. I was surprised to hear of how many people he’s been helping throughout the years.
“A lot of people reached out to us and told us of his compassionate endeavours.”
A large poster with a photo of the deceased reads “we will never forget you” as visitors enter Sha’am and the neighbouring village of Khor Khweir, where the UAE flag flies on most buildings.
The road leading to Tariq’s house was renamed after him, as was a kindergarten next to his home, a sports centre, a government building in Ras Al Khaimah and mosques across the UAE and Bahrain.
Tariq had a brother with special needs with whom he was very close.
“It hit him the most,” said Aysha. “His grief is overwhelming. He visits Tariq’s grave at every chance he gets and hasn’t found solace like the rest of us. He was a father figure to him.”
Ahmed Al Shehi, Tariq’s nephew said: “He helped me find a job and even made the effort to register my aunt Alia at the University of Sharjah, where she is currently studying public relations.
“He always went out of his way for others, and naturally, for his country too.”
The kindergarten named after Tariq is a only few metres away from his home.
A picture of him can be found at the entrance and a poem that was written by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, about his passing, called “Tariq bin Zayed”.
Tariq’s killers were sentenced to death by Bahrain’s high criminal court last week.
He was serving in Bahrain aspart of a joint Arabian Gulf force deployed in 2011 to help restore order following demonstrations in the country.
He was the first officer from another Arabian Gulf state to be killed since GCC forces arrived in the country.
Sha’am was relatively unknown before his death, but the country has since come to know it as “Tariq’s town”.