Emirati friend of hostage Majd Kamalmaz hopes mental strength will help him survive

Abu Ahmad Al Nuaimi and the now captive American psychotherapist worked together in Abu Dhabi

The Emirati business partner of an American held hostage in Syria hopes his friend’s psychological strength will help him through his ordeal.

Abu Ahmad Al Nuaimi, 65, and Majd Kamalmaz, 62, ran a mental health and counselling centre in Abu Dhabi shortly before the American was arrested in Syria in 2017.

The two friends dovetailed well, with Mr Al Nuaimi’s business acumen and the expertise of Mr Kamalmaz, an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Over the five years with Majd I learnt a lot from him and we developed a good business together,” he said.

He was going to Syria freely, with no question mark over him

“I knew he was going to Lebanon as he had some charitable centres there and in Jordan also to help refugees.

“He was going to Syria freely, with no question mark over him. Suddenly it was then I heard from his son what had happened.

“I have not spoken to him since he left.”

Mr Kamalmaz, from Arlington, Virginia, began his work in mental health with high-risk young people.

After specialising in treatments for PTSD, his work took him around the world including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Indonesia and in Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina tore through the state in 2005.

Another major project was researching mental trauma in young refugees in Lebanon who had fled the Syrian civil war. He and his colleagues developed programmes to help them and their parents overcome their ordeal.

That work led him to plan a journey to Syria in February 2017 to set up support networks in some of the hardest hit areas of the country.

He has not been seen since and was believed to have been detained by the Syrian government.

Mr Al Nuaimi said there was no indication his friend was at risk or wanted by the authorities when he flew in to Syria.

“They had their ways to check with the border officials from friends and contacts to see if they were on a list, and they were told it was OK to enter,” he said.

“I was very shocked to hear he had been detained.

“You feel bad when something terrible like this happens to a friend. I was only relieved his wife was not held with him.

“We only see this in movies, and what we see is sometimes very bad. It is very hard.

“I have no idea how he will deal with this situation but morally he is strong and a specialist in this field."