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'He put in blood, sweat and tears': tributes pour in for UAE's ambassador to Afghanistan

ABU DHABI // Tributes have poured in for Juma Al Kaabi, the UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan who died on Wednesday of injuries suffered in last month’s terrorist attack in Kandahar.

Described as a friend to the troubled country and its people, Al Kaabi was seriously wounded when explosives placed under a sofa went off as Kandahar’s governor was entertaining a UAE delegation at his guesthouse.

Five Emirati aid workers were among 11 people killed in the blast. Al Kaabi was flown by military plane to Abu Dhabi for treatment.

The Emiratis were in Kandahar to lay the foundation stone for the UAE-funded Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan orphanage and to sign a scholarship agreement with Kardan University.

Those close to Al Kaabi said he took his work very seriously, throwing himself into the UAE’s developmental projects to help Afghanistan and its people.

“I knew him before he became ambassador, he served in Afghanistan as Deputy Chief of Commission for five-and-a-half years. Everybody in Afghanistan knew him. He had experience and knowledge and established a network. He was an asset for both countries,” said Abdul Farid Zikri, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the UAE.

“Every time I went to Kabul I tried to meet with him, and before he went to Kabul he came and visited us at the embassy and we spoke about [upcoming] projects. He had a lot of plans for this year of what he should be achieving.”

The two ambassadors worked on establishing schools and providing Afghan students with the opportunity to go to university.

“He also worked on agricultural projects, which is very important for Afghanistan,” said Mr Zikria.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced Al Kaabi’s death on Twitter on Wednesday.

A statement on Wam, the state news agency, read: “It is with great sadness and sorrow that we mourn the martyr of the nation, Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi, who lost his soul for the sake of humanity.”

Abdullah Al Bastaki, whose father Mohammed was also killed in the Kandahar attack, said the two men were close friends.

“His son is also my friend and I consider him my brother. The pain is one; we are all one family even if we are not connected by blood.

“My father used to tell us stories about how he was very concerned about his work, he was conscientious and served humanity.”

Mr Al Bastaki said his father was honoured to have worked with “one of the best Emirati ambassadors” for two-and-a-half years.

“For him his job was a personal matter, he was working for humanity, he stayed up day and night to do good and serve the nation. He put in all his blood, sweat and tears.”

The Emirati aid team who died Afghanistan, which included Abdulhamid Sultan Al Hammadi, Abdullah Mohammed Al Kaabi, Ahmed Abdulrahman Al Tunaiji and Ahmed Al Mazroui, had no social or family time as they were fully dedicated to their jobs at all, said Mr Al Bastaki.

Mr Zikria said he has high hopes Al Kaabi’s legacy will continue wtih the next generation of Emirati diplomats.

“I am sure that the next ambassador will be someone who will have a vast experience. Since the two countries have brotherly and close cultural relationships, the next ambassador won’t be someone who does not know the country or the culture.

“I don’t have any worries that the next ambassador will have lack understandingof Afghanistan,” he said.

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