‘Isaw death but re­fused to give up’

Boat owner re­lives how he helped friend in six-hour swim for sur­vival af­ter their ves­sel cap­sized off Dubai coast

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali Al Shouk @alial­shouk

A sailor has told of how he and a friend bat­tled waves and fall­ing tem­per­a­tures for six hours af­ter their boat sank off the coast of Dubai.

Khalid Al Suwaidi, 35, told 7DAYS that he and fel­low Emi­rati Mo­hammed Ahmed, 31, feared they would die af­ter they were stranded 11km out to sea.

A diver by pro­fes­sion, Al Suwaidi said he kept his friend’s spir­its up by telling him to think of see­ing his fam­ily again, when a strug­gling Ahmed told him to go on with­out him.

“We faced dark­ness, high waves and cold wa­ter for six hours,” he said yes­ter­day.

It was only their life-jack­ets and de­ter­mi­na­tion that saved them af­ter their small cruiser be­gan rapidly tak­ing on wa­ter and sank, he said, adding: “We swam to save our lives. We were close to dy­ing, but we sur­vived.”

Al Suwaidi said they first re­alised they were in trou­ble two hours af­ter set­ting off from Jumeirah on their boat trip at 4pm last Tues­day. He said they leapt off as the ves­sel took on wa­ter and watched it sink.

He said: “We started swim­ming, the waves were just throw­ing us back out.”

Al Suwaidi said Ahmed be­gan swal­low­ing wa­ter.

He said: “Both of us were ex­hausted but I en­cour­aged him to con­tinue.”

Al Suwaidi added: “I told him he must swim if he wants to see his child and fam­ily again and he did. I said to him that we’ll ei­ther live or die to­gether.” He said they passed the World Is­lands at mid­night. Four kilo­me­tres later they got sight of Jumeirah Beach and no­ticed peo­ple on the shore. Al Suwaidi said: “We used the whis­tles and yelled for help, we couldn’t swim another me­tre. Thanks to god the res­cue boats from Dubai Po­lice came and res­cued us.” Al Suwaidi, a fa­ther of three chil­dren, said Ahmed was in a bad way with a body tem­per­a­ture of 28C. He was in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion in hos­pi­tal, but has re­cov­ered. Al Suwaidi said they sent an SOS to the UAE Coast­guard be­fore the boat went down but re­ceived no re­sponse. He said: “We waited for some time but no one came.” 7DAYS was un­able to reach any­one at the coast­guard. Al Suwaidi added: “We kept calm and kept swim­ming. We faced death but with the hope we would see our fam­i­lies again.”

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