Ruler of Sharjah leads prayers at funeral of son Sheikh Khalid

Tens of thousands turn out to mourn the death of Sheikh Khalid, 39

The Ruler of Sharjah led tens of thousands of mourners at the funeral of his son on Wednesday morning after his death at the age of 39.

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi prayed before laying Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan to rest at Jubail Cemetery.

The burial followed prayers at nearby King Faisal Mosque at 9am, where Sheikh Dr Sultan was flanked by the leaders of the four Northern Emirates.

Sheikh Khalid, a successful designer with his own fashion brand, died in London on Monday. His death prompted tributes from the UAE's royal families and from the fashion world.

The UAE is in a three-day period of mourning and flags flew at half-staff across the country on Wednesday.

Streets around the mosque and cemetery were packed from early morning and police redirected traffic to allow mourners to walk in one group to the two sites.

Sheikh Khalid's bier, draped in a black cloth, was laid at the front of the mosque for prayers, then carried to the nearby graveyard.

“The scene witnessed today during the funeral reflects the unity of UAE’s people. Emiratis and expatriates attended the funeral in their thousands," said Saeed Al Kaabi, who is head of Sharjah Educational Council and knew Sheikh Khalid.

“Sheikh Khalid was a brother to all of us, having worked with him at Sharjah Executive Council. He was well known for his modesty and his dedication for work.

“We ask the almighty Allah to rest his soul in peace and grant his family the strength and fortitude to bear this tragic loss."

The funeral was attended by the Rulers and Crown Princes of Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman.

Also there were Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance, along with dignitaries and officials from across the emirates.

Al Badee Palace will be open to the public for condolences on the three days after asr prayers about 4pm.

I saw tears in the eyes of many. The news stunned the people of Sharjah. People are truly saddened

Among those paying their respects was Ahmed Al Tartour, from Jordan, who said the people of Sharjah felt an attachment to the Royal Family.

"I saw tears in the eyes of many because the Ruler has always been a kind father to all," Mr Al Tartour said.

“The news stunned the people of Sharjah. People are truly saddened."

Like many others he parked almost 3 kilometres away and walked to the service.

“There was a sea of people," Mr Al Tartour said. "When we left the mosque, we walked on foot through a path that had been prepared by police."

King Faisal Mosque, one of the largest in the emirate, has a capacity of about 20,000 people and it was full, with many praying on the steps, the gardens and out on to the streets.

“I was among those people who prayed at the doorsteps of the mosque, and I could say that more than 50,000 must have come in this heat to be with the Sharjah Ruler, who is very dear to the hearts of all Emiratis and expatriates alike," Mr Al Tartour said.

“May God give him strength and patience."

Qasim Al Murshidi, 50, an Emirati, said there were many citizens and residents among the dignitaries and royals.

“Members of the public of all nationalities were there. I heard one saying in his broken Arabic that he was there to be with 'Baba Sheikh Sultan',” Mr Al Murshidi said.

“I arrived to the mosque at 7am and saw hundreds of people from across the UAE already there.

“In think the mosque accommodates more than 20,000 and this morning it was full and many people were praying outside. I couldn’t see an end to the people there."

On Wednesday, leaders from across the Arab world sent Sheikh Dr Sultan cables of condolence.

Messages came in from King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Sultan Qaboos of Oman, Sheikh Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, King Hamad of Bahrain, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine, and King Abdullah of Jordan.

Egyptian President El Sisi also called Sheikh Dr Sultan, Sharjah Media Office reported.

Each said they prayed for God to grant mercy on Sheikh Khalid’s soul and to ease the grief of the bereaved family.

Sheikh Dr Sultan also received condolences from the heads and officials of academic and cultural institutions, professional associations and international organisations.

The Sharjah Ruler's Court announced the death of Sheikh Khalid on Tuesday. The statement said he died on Monday in London.

Sheikh Khalid was the chairman of Sharjah Urban Planning Council. He also led work on the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, an exhibition and series of events that aim to address stereotypes about the region, which is due to be held across the emirate in November.

“Sharjah Architecture Triennial will offer an accessible platform for critical reflection on the social and cultural issues that we face at both regional and international levels,” Sheikh Khalid said when the event was announced.

“Through the creative process of this exchange, we believe that we can arrive at new ways of designing cities.”

Sheikh Khalid was also the creative director and co-owner of a British fashion label, Qasimi.

The royal was mainly raised in the UK, having moved there when he was 9. He studied at Tonbridge School in Kent.

He went on to study French and Spanish at University College London and earned a degree in architectural studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.

On Tuesday, social media users in the UAE tweeted pictures of Sheikh Khalid and his father, as well as photos of Sheikh Khalid with his brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan, who died in 1999.

The UAE flag flew at half-staff from Wednesday. During national mourning, radio stations traditionally cancel live programming and play classical music and prayers as a mark of respect.

In the past, federal ministries and government departments closed, although this practice has declined in recent years and schools have typically remained open.

The death of the UAE's Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, in November 2004 was marked by 40 days of mourning.