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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

UAE reunites Yemeni Jewish families after up to 21 years apart

Tearful reunion captured in Abu Dhabi as relatives fly in from Yemen and the UK

A Yemeni Jewish family is reunited in Abu Dhabi after 21 years apart. Wam
A Yemeni Jewish family is reunited in Abu Dhabi after 21 years apart. Wam

Two Jewish Yemeni families who were separated for decades have been reunited in the UAE.

On Monday, authorities said one of the families, comprising 15 relatives including five children, had been split between Yemen and the UK for 21 years.

They were brought together in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after local authorities arranged their flights and accommodation.

The grandparents and an uncle travelled to the Emirates from Yemen, while the other 12 family members arrived from London, reported state news agency Wam.

The second family, of five, travelled from Yemen to the UAE, where their remaining relatives, who they had not seen for 15 years, were.

Authorities said Covid-19 safety precautions were taken for each family to ensure their health and well-being.

The result was two tearful and joyous reunions in the UAE capital.

Ishaq Fayez, 35, a member of the first family, said he had not seen his grandparents and uncle since he was a child, after moving to the UK from Yemen.

"The last time I saw them was as a child," he said.

He described the moment as a "dream for us all".

"Today, the UAE made my family's dream come true after we had lost hope on getting reunited, after 21 years of separation." The family were kept apart due to the situation in Yemen and financial difficulties, reported Wam.

Loza Fayez, Ishaq's mother, said: "I am in a dream tonight. I'm not sure if this is a dream or reality. I haven’t seen my family in 21 years."

Yousif Habib, from the same family, said the UAE had given them a memory they would never forget.

The second family, the Salem family, were also reunited on Sunday after being parted for 15 years.

Harun Salem, his wife and two children were flown in from Yemen to meet their relative who lives in Abu Dhabi.

"Words cannot express how grateful we are to the UAE. We are very happy being here reunited with our family member. The UAE is truly the homeland of love, tolerance and peace," he said.

The UAE’s senior rabbi in residence, Dr Elie Abadie, praised the country's leaders for the act of kindness.

"Thanking the UAE leadership for their humanitarian act," he said in a post on Twitter, referencing Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

"As the senior Rabbi of the Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates, I thank the government of the Emirates for their great humanitarian deed in uniting two Jewish Yemeni families after 21 years. May God bless you."

In August, the UAE brought together another Yemeni Jewish family after they had endured 15 years apart.

They were able to meet in the UAE after local authorities helped them travel from Yemen and the UK.

Updated: January 13, 2021 11:19 AM

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