Muscat: An Omani national who had been missing in Turkey for five days has been found in good health.
Abdullah Al Muharbi, who suffers from a mental disability, went missing on 26 July during a family visit to Turkey while they were waiting at an airport. Abdullah left the airport on a bus and walked around Istanbul on foot for a number of days, without money or identification, until he was found on Tuesday, 30 July.
Speaking to Al Shabiba, Times of Oman’s sister publication, Abdullah’s cousin Hamad Al Muharbi said, “Abdullah is thankfully in good health, although during the days that he was missing he was outside on the streets without a shelter. He’s in good health, despite having walked long distances on foot.”
Hamad said, “We were in Turkey for tourism, around nine family members altogether. We spent around two weeks in Turkey, and Istanbul was lovely. Abdullah was with us and despite his disability, he didn’t cause any trouble during that time.”
Hamad, who described Abdullah’s disability as “not severe,” said “We are used to having Abdullah with us.”
Abdullah went missing while the family waited in the airport overnight as a result of their flight being delayed. Hamad added “Because the flight was in the afternoon, we decided to stay in the airport for an extra night instead of going back to Istanbul and then returning the next day, which would be costly. We decided to stay in the airport and rest in the two prayer areas.
“The women went to the female prayer area and the men to the men’s area,” added Hamad. “After the dawn prayer, Abdullah went with his sisters to the cafeteria to grab a morning bite to eat.” He went on to explain that once they had eaten, Abdullah returned to the male prayer area, before getting up and walking away while Hamad was asleep.
“This is something he doesn’t normally do,” explained Hamad.
According to Hamad, airport officials then observed Abdullah and took him outside of the passenger hall and back towards Istanbul. Abdullah remained in Istanbul for days with no money or identification, while the family searched for him.
“We didn’t find him in the passenger hall, nor in other parts of the airport, and so we decided to alert the authorities and the embassy,” explained Hamad. “The ambassador spared no effort and a deputy came to the airport. He went with us to the police station and they helped us look through the cameras, which showed Abdullah being taken to a bus in Istanbul.
Hamad expressed his thanks to the Omani embassy, which he says “worked as hard as possible to help find Abdullah,” adding “we want to thank them.”
Abdullah was finally found at a market in Istanbul by an Omani tourist who was aware of the case.
“After being lost for a number of days, during which he didn’t sleep, eat or find easy access to restrooms, an Omani tourist thankfully found Abdullah,” said Hamad. “I was with my son Zahir at an area for missing people when the consulate contacted us and told us that Abdullah had been found by a tourist,” he said.
“I would like to thank all Omanis who were worried for Abdullah’s well being, as well as others in the GCC who kept him in their prayers,” Hamad added.