The drowned bodies of 38-year-old Abdullah Al Makhmari and his 7 year-old-son Saif were fished out of the sea off the coast of Abu Dhabi's Al Shalila beach on Sunday night. It took search and rescue teams almost four hours to locate the bodies of the deceased after one of the helicopters finally sighted them.
Al Makhmari had taken three of his sons out to a public beach located in the vicinity of their house earlier that day after completing his afternoon prayers. While his youngest, Omar, 3, sat in the car, the two older boys - Mohammed, 12, and Saif - were playing in the shallow areas of the water when a riptide swooped in and began dragging them further towards the deep end.
Seeing Mohammed going down first, his father rushed to his aid and pulled him out of the water. According to Al Makhmari's uncle, the father then noticed Saif being pulled under by the riptide, and in an attempt to save him, dove in after him. Unfortunately, neither one made it back to shore.
In a statement made by the Abu Dhabi Municipality with regards to Al Shalila sea, the water was said to be unfit for swimming as there are a number of "No Swimming" signs spread out across the area. It was also mentioned that the absence of a lifeguard, as opposed to "official beaches like Saadiyat and Hudayriat and other," is another sign to keep away from the water.
Progress is being made in Al Shalila "to rehabilitate it in co-operation with a number of government bodies," and the location is now becoming more and more popular for youth who are interested in water-based activities.
However, the incident has led Abu Dhabi Police to urge people "to strictly observe safety rules and regulations and avoid risky places."
They also reminded everyone that it takes only seconds for a child to drown. "Parents should always keep an eye on their children and never leave them unattended or swimming alone, particularly at undesignated areas, or where no lifeguards are present."
This is not the first drowning incident to occur in the UAE this year. Although authorities are warning parents to keep an eye out on their children when near large bodies of water, adults have found themselves to be victims as well.
In August 2019, a 65-year-old Asian man drowned in a swimming pool at a hotel in Sharjah. The investigations carried out at the time of the incident found that the 29-year-old lifeguard responsible for the pool-goers was preoccupied with breakfast and was not able to save the man from drowning.
The Asian man was taken to Al Qasimi Hospital where he died several hours later. After being referred to the Sharjah Misdemeanor Court, the lifeguard pleaded guilty to the negligence which led to him unintentionally cause the death of a man.