DUBAI // Hundreds of mourners on Saturday attended the funeral of Sgt Khalid Ali Ghareeb Al Baloushi, who died while on duty with the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s Operation Restoring Hope in Yemen.
The body of the 36-year-old Emirati soldier arrived at Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi on Saturday before being taken to Al Khulafa Al Rashedeen mosque in Dubai for funeral prayers.
His body was laid to rest in Al Warqa cemetery close to his cousin, Sgt Nader Mubarak Eisa Soliman, who died last week, also in Yemen. The burial took place after dhuhr prayers.
Sgt Al Baloushi leaves behind five children – a daughter, Moza, 18, and sons Mansour, 17, Tareq, 12, Jasim, 7, and Naser, 4.
The serviceman, who enrolled in the Armed Forces after leaving school, had nine brothers and seven sisters.
Sgt Al Baloushi’s family received well wishers after the burial. Jasim, dressed in an army uniform, stood accepting condolences.
Cpl Ali Ibrahim was the last member of the family to see Sgt Al Baloushi alive.
“I saw my uncle two hours before he was martyred. It was unreal, I left for my duty and he did as well. I received a call telling me that he was martyred,” the 33-year-old said.
He accompanied his uncle’s body from Yemen until it was laid to rest in his hometown.
“He was a devout Muslim, caring and helpful. He was more like a brother to me although he is my uncle,” said Cpl Ibrahim.
Residents of the Al Warqa 2 neighbourhood where the Al Baloushi family live were still in mourning for Sgt Soliman when they received news of another local soldier killed in the line of duty.
“Our neighbourhood is still not over last week’s funeral and yesterday we received the news of Khalid dying as well. All his friends and neighbours are in shock,” said Mohammed Kathim, a friend and neighbour of the serviceman for the past seven years.
“I last saw him around a month ago. I met him at the mosque where we attended prayers together before we talked for a while,” said the 38-year-old Dubai Municipality employee.
Relatives said Sgt Al Baloushi loved sports and frequently rode his quad bike in Dubai’s desert.
“Two weeks ago we camped out in Al Fayeh desert, where we had so much fun, rode quad bikes and enjoyed our night together with our friends and relatives,” said 22-year-old Ghanim Gharib, Sgt Al Baloushi’s nephew.
“During his last visit, he declined to go out with us and his friends. He said he wanted to spend as much time as possible with his children, before he went back to Yemen.
“On the day of his martyrdom he sent me a message on WhatsApp that contained a verse from the Quran.
“My uncle will be greatly missed. He was more of a brother and friend to us.”
Sgt Al Baloushi was in Dubai 10 days ago to visit his mother in hospital.
“Our mother had surgery to her leg, he came to check on her and made sure she was doing fine,” said his brother Rashid, 42.
“He spent some time with his family before he returned to the service.
Another brother, Ahmad, said his sibling’s sacrifice was an honour to his family. “Khalid’s martyrdom is a badge of honour to our family,” he said.