DUBAI // In the 18 months Omar Hayah Ajmal Khan has driven a Dubai taxi, passengers have left many things behind – from mobile phones to shopping bags.
On Tuesday afternoon, the 26-year-old Pakistani driver’s character was put to the test when he found a briefcase full of money and jewellery.
“I was very surprised to see all that cash, I can truly say that I’ve never seen that much money before in my life,” said Mr Khan.
He had completed his last fare of the day when he decided to pick up a Saudi man from Al Rigga Street in Deira and dropped him off in the Rola district of Sharjah.
“I thought my day was over. It was 3:20pm and I get off at 4pm. I was just going to refuel my taxi and go home,” said Mr Khan, who works for Metro Taxi.
At the petrol station, while cleaning his cab, he noticed a case tucked behind the driver’s seat. When he checked to see what was inside, he found 123,700 Saudi Riyals and gold jewellery.
“I immediately called my company to say a customer had left his bag of valuables in my car and that I was going to the police station to drop it off.”
Mr Khan took the bag and its contents to Al Qusais Police Station.
“The officers at the station also seemed surprised by what was inside the briefcase. They told me that they would call me when they located the owner of the bag and I’d have to return to verify his identity.”
Less than an hour later, Mr Khan received the call from the station.
He returned to find a very relieved Hatem Awad Al Anassi, a 30-year-old businessman from Saudi Arabia.
“When I got to the station I saw the Saudi gentleman and he was overjoyed to have his property returned to him. He thanked me profusely and gave me Dh500 for my trouble.”
Mr Al Anassi said he always carried cash with him while on business in the UAE, but had never misplaced it before.
A call to his mobile phone distracted him as he was leaving the taxi, and he panicked when he realised he’d left it behind.
“I was very afraid that I had lost the money,” he said. “But at the same time I had hope that it would be returned. After all, the UAE is a very peaceful place.”
Mr Al Anassi contacted the police and they began searching through security camera footage from the hotel he was dropped off at.
“The first photo they showed me was of a different taxi driver. I was starting to lose hope when I got a call saying that the bag had been handed to the officers at Al Qusais Police Station.”
He said he was blown away when he heard the taxi driver had handed it in.
“This guy is on a limited income, he must really have a clean soul to do such a deed.”
Mr Khan’s friends were equally impressed he returned the loot.
“Many of them said they would have been tempted to keep it. But that never even crossed my mind,” said Mr Khan. “This is just the way I was brought up, you know?”
Dubai Police were so moved by Mr Khan’s honesty, they held a ceremony in his honour on Wednesday and presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his honesty and integrity.
“I’ve never taken a dirham I didn’t earn,” Mr Khan said. “Even if no one else was a round to see me, God sees all. Besides, if I had taken it, I don’t think I could ever have look my 2-year-old daughter in the eye.
“I’m a much happier person with Dh500 that I earned than Dh120,000 that I didn’t.”