Christchurch shooting: Family in UAE and New Zealand plead for sightings of Hussein Al Umari
TheNationalUAE -

An Iraqi man, who was born in Abu Dhabi and lived most of his adolescent life here, is missing after the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

Hussein Al Umari has not been heard from since at least one gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday afternoon. He was believed to be at the Masjid Al Noor mosque at the time, where he went every Friday for prayers.

His mother, Iraqi woman Janna Ezat, last spoke to her 36-year-old son on Thursday night.

Speaking to The National from her home in Christchurch, she said Mr Al Umari was supposed to meet his family for lunch after he had gone to the mosque. He did not show up for lunch, and no one had heard from him.


Mr Al Umari was born in Abu Dhabi but moved to Christchurch with his family in 1997.

Mrs Ezat, who is originally from Iraq but spent 15 years in the UAE, had been at Christchurch Hospital all afternoon awaiting news of her son.

"We went to the mosque but the street is closed so I was looking for his car to be sure that he is there," she said through tears.

"I went to the hospital to see if he is injured and that's where we stayed."

When the list of injured people were posted at the hospital, Mr Al Umari's name was not on the list.

"My son is not listed at the hospital it means he might be dead at the mosque so I am waiting for the police to call me," she said.

It was now 4.15am in Christchurch, and Ms Ezat said her daughter and husband were all at the family home, though no one could sleep.

The family had lived in Christchurch for 22 years, after immigrating from the UAE in 1997.

"I'm shivering and I am just waiting until I get a phone call. I'm a miserable case but I'm trying to answer my phone.

"Yesterday we were so happy we brought a brand new car and we had a nice tour. But just today everything collapsed."

Mr Al Umari's second cousin Omar Al Umari moved from Iraq to Auckland in 1997, and attended the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch.

It was there that the two met by coincidence in Christchurch during a soccer game, when they discovered they were related. They grew close and kept in touch after Omar moved to the UAE for work in 2008.

Omar was now waiting at his home in Dubai to hear more news of his whereabouts.

"We got to know each other in 2001, and became brothers," he told The National.

The last time they saw each other was at Omar's wedding in 2010 in Auckland. He last heard from Mr Al Umari via a voice note on Whatsapp in October 2018.

"He always wanted to come back [to the UAE]... he always admired the UAE. Because his childhood was here in Abu Dhabi."

Updated: March 15, 2019 10:48 PM

read more