UAE soldier who died serving country in Yemen laid to rest

The body of 30-year-old First Sergeant Zakaria Sulaiman Obaid Al Zaabi arrived at Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi on Friday before being taken to Hamza Ibn Abdulmuttalib Mosque in Kalba, Sharjah for funeral prayers.

The body of First Sergeant Zakaria Sulaiman Obaid Al Zaabi arrives in the UAE on March 17, 2017. Wam
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SHARJAH // An Emirati soldier who was killed while serving his country in Yemen was laid to rest in his hometown on the east coast of Sharjah on Friday.
In the small community of Kalba, relatives, fellow servicemen, and friends of First Sgt Zakaria Sulaiman Obaid Al Zaabi attended funeral prayers and the burial of the soldier, who died during Operation Restoring Hope, the Saudi-led campaign to restore the internationally recognised government of Yemen.
The body of 30-year-old Al Zaabi arrived at Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi on Friday where a special military ceremony was held in the presence of several high-ranking Armed Forces officers before being taken to Hamza Ibn Abdulmuttalib Mosque in Kalba for funeral prayers.
His body was attended by his brother, Mohammed, 37, who is also deployed in Yemen.
Al Zaabi was one of 15 siblings and leaves seven brothers and seven sisters, as well as a five-month-old son, Obaid, named after his late grandfather.
Ahmad Al Zaabi, Zakaria's older brother, said his sibling was sent to Yemen six months ago.
"He enrolled in the service ­after he finished school and got married two years ago. His wife is devastated at losing her husband.
"He was very attached to our grandfather, to the extent he named his newborn after him. Now his son, Obaid, will be known as the son of the brave martyr who sacrificed his life to protect his country and our brothers in Yemen.
"He was a proud soldier, happy that he was fulfilling his duty, serving his country, and helping his Yemeni brothers," said the 35-year-old, also a serviceman.
Yehia Al Zaabi, a younger brother, was the first in the family to receive news of his death.
"I was at home when an official from the army delivered the news of his death.
"He told me that my brother was martyred in the line of duty," said the 18-year-old National Service cadet.
"I couldn't speak. My phone fell from my hands. My mother and sisters jumped towards me and I struggled to give them the message. They started crying, as did I.
"He was like a father figure to me, he offered me advice and supported me throughout the years.
Yehia said Zakaria had always been supportive of the family, especially of his mother and sisters after their father died.
"He last contacted my mother two days ago, he checked up on her and made sure everyone was doing OK," the cadet said.
The last time the family saw Al Zaabi was at dinner in the family home in Al Mussala area of Kalba two weeks ago when he spoke of his desire to be a martyr.
"He told us that he hopes to be a Martyr, it would be the ultimate deed he can do that would bring his family honor and pride, and that martyrdom would be his ticket to heaven,"said his older brother Ahmad.
His younger brother Yehia said the family had enjoyed their time with Zakaria before he headed back to service the very next day.
In the mourners tent before the funeral, Al Zaabi's childhood friend sat secluded with his head down.
"We were both extremely close since our schooldays, we only separated when he was stationed in Yemen, and I served in Fujairah," said Abdullah Eid.
"Everybody knew how Zakaria was a devout Muslim, kind and caring, but I will tell you to what extent he really was. I was almost paralysed from a car accident in 2014, I couldn't walk and I needed someone to push me around in a wheelchair.
"He asked me to accompany him to Umrah, I told him I couldn't due to my injuries. He booked me a plane ticket and flew me there. He carried me when there was a need and pushed my wheelchair until we completed Umrah and came back. I will never forget this as long as I live," said the 33-year-old serviceman.
The General Command of the Armed Forces extended its condolences to the relatives of Al Zaabi, praying to Allah to rest his soul in eternal peace and bestow patience and solace on his family and relatives.