– ‘Afraid I might collapse’ –
He feared he would die from suffocation, he said. “I wasn’t sure what was happening downstairs. I was afraid I might collapse from the smoke.”
Holding on for dear life outside the building, he began calling and texting his colleagues asking them to get in touch with the civil defence for help.
Civil defence representatives kept him calm as he waited to be rescued. “I was telling them I hoped to survive and see my wife,” he said.
More than half an hour later, he heard rescue workers approaching his floor.
“When I saw lights and heard the sounds of footsteps at the floor I was in, I started tapping on the aluminium to get their attention,” he said.
“I think I was the only person left stuck that long,” he said, describing how he was led out through the smoke-filled corridors of the five-star hotel.
Dubai’s police chief said that all the residents had been evacuated due to the blaze, the cause of which was unknown.
Not far away, Dubai’s fireworks display erupted as usual to welcome in the New Year, starting from the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – before spreading across the skies above the city.
For the photographer, the start of 2016 is something he will never forget. “I’m excited because it’s New Year, and (filled with) an adrenaline rush,” he told AFP, his voice still shaky.