'He was the joy of our life,' grieving brother says of football fan killed after Gulf Cup final

Abdul Rahman Al Harbi, who was studying electrical engineering and had plans to find a job near his parents and little sister, died with two friends in a traffic accident in Saudi Arabia last weekend

Families and friends pay tribute to an Emirati football fan, Abdul Rahman Al Harbi, killed in car crash driving back from Gulf Cup final. Courtesy Ahmed Al Harbi, the deceased’s brother
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Abdul Rahman Al Harbi and his two friends, Mohammed Al Mazroui and Ahmad Al Hammadi, travelled by car to Kuwait last weekend to cheer on the UAE national football team in the final of the Gulf Cup against Oman. It was a short break they would never return from.

"At 10pm, police officers informed my father that Abdul Rahman and his friends were involved in a major accident in Al Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and were admitted to a hospital," Ahmed Al Harbi, the 37-year-old brother of the deceased told The National.

“We went to the hospital and were told that Abdul Rahman passed away. It was a moment of shock and grief.”

The three men were killed last Sunday in a traffic accident that injured another. The cause of the accident is yet to be determined.

Abdul Rahman, 20, and the two other men decided to drive to Kuwait two days before the match. Highly enthusiastic and passionate about the game, they didn't want to try their luck getting onto one of the free Emirates flights offered to take Emirati fans to Kuwait to support their national team.

His father, Abu Baker Al Harbi, called several times while the three were away, and during their last phone conversation on Saturday, Mr Al Harbi told his father that they would wait to travel home on the following day to avoid the traffic rush.

Abdul Rahman devoted most of his time to his family, his brother Ahmed told The National.  "He used to take care of the family – get our groceries and everything we need. Now when I need something, I immediately think 'Abdul Rahman will to do it'. Then it hits me that he is dead," he said.

Abdul Rahman was studying electronic engineering at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Ras Al Khaimah.

“He was on a vacation and that’s why he was able to travel,” his brother said.

“I share lots of memories with my brother since he was a little boy. When I got married, he was a great of help and assisted me in all the arrangements.”

Speaking while en route to the funeral of one of the other men who died that day, he said "His friends were like our family members".

“Abdul Rahman’s life was taken too early. He was the joy of our family’s life and had plans to find a job in Ras Al Khaimah to stay near to his parents and little sister. He was close to his family and was enjoying his relatively new role as uncle to his nephews.”

“We come from a big family: we are five brothers and five sisters. I and my other three brothers work in Abu Dhabi, but Abdul Rahman was the only brother living with my parents and taking care of them and his younger sister,” said Mr Ahmed.