Emirati cancer fighter Khalifa Bin Dafoos Al Muhairi tragically lost his battle with the illness earlier this week. The 29-year-old former police officer was widely known on social media in the UAE and often shared videos with thousands of followers. Al Muhairi bravely fought lung cancer for five years and became an amputee after the illness progressed. 

He refused to let the disease define him and went on to become a source of hope and inspiration to many. Just hours after news of his untimely death started making the rounds online, thousands of tributes poured in. Emirati royals were among those who led the commemorations of Al Muhairi, hailing him as a hero.  

Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan paid tribute to Al Muhairi in a tweet, writing: 

"The hero left this world as a young man but he leaves behind hope and optimism."

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan also sent out condolences to the late man's family on social media. 

"Our deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of cancer fighter Khalifa Rashid Dafoos Al Muhairi. Khalifa, may Allah rest his soul in peace, will remain an inspiring source of optimism, hope, patience and positivity. May God accept him, rest his soul in eternal peace and grant his family patience and solace," the ruler wrote on Twitter.

Thousands mourned Al Muhairi's passing online

For years, Al Muhairi documented his fight through debilitating chemotherapy sessions and cancer treatment. 

In July 2018, he posted a video on Instagram calling on people to help him raise 3 million dirhams ($816,735) - the cost of a life-saving trial treatment. This came after doctors told him he was no longer responding to chemotherapy. At the time, Dubai's Sheikh Hamdan stepped in to fund his treatment. 

Leaders weren't alone in paying tribute to a young man who inspired many. Other people in the UAE also took to social media to hail his courage via a viral hashtag launched in his name. Many said he will now be remembered as a hero who bravely battled through illness and never gave up. 

"I'll never forget your words Khalifa"

"I knew him as a positive, good-willed human being even in his last months when he was suffering with great pain. I ask that you pray for him." 

Many hailed him as a "true warrior"

"He fought cancer with determination"

"He accepted it and lived with it. He fought back to beat it. He planted in us a sense of positivity. He was brave enough to share his emotions."