Five-year-old Yezan snuggles up to his mother for warmth to shield himself from the biting wind.
His Moroccan mother Wafa wraps her arms around her son as a silent prayer drops from her lips into the darkness of the night.
The homeless family has been living on the beach in Sharjah for more than a week.
Her Palestinian husband, Hesham Hussain, 40, is nearby, keeping an eye on both of them. With an expired residence visa, no earnings and unable to pay rent the family had no choice but to abandon their rented apartment in Al Buteena, Sharjah.
Hussain reached out to Gulf News in an email recounting his extremely difficult situation.
“The real estate company has been kind enough to allow us to stay in the flat for two years without paying the rent. But finally I had to leave the apartment on February 17 as all my attempts to find a proper job were in vain. The total rent due is Dh36,000,” said Hussain whose struggle began, he said, when the management of the company where he worked absconded.
After being asked to leave the safety of a warm apartment, the family found itself on the beach.
Sharjah Police didn’t directly address Hussain’s case on Tuesday but said court orders can force people to vacate their apartments after non-payment of rent.
“I used to work in a building material supply company as a salesman. The entire management absconded, leaving me stranded. I tried to retrieve the salary they owed me by taking legal help. But, in the end, I ended up drying out all my savings,” said Hussain who has been living on the mercy of friends. “Whatever I receive is not much. I can’t afford to take a taxi so I walk all the way to wherever my friends are in Sharjah. At times I get Dh10, Dh20 and Dh50, They give me a helping hand as per their capacity. There are times when I ask for just Dh5 to get some bread for my son,” he added.
Hussain and his wife use the facilities at a nearby mosque in the mornings and take to the streets during the day.
The family’s illegal status has been the biggest hurdle for them in getting help from charity organisations.
“To get charity I need to have a valid residence visa. Tell me, where on earth will I go with my wife and child? I am ready to work, but nobody will give me a job. As a husband and as a father I want to look after my wife and child in the best possible manner,” he said.
Placing a reassuring hand on her husband, Wafa tries to calm him down by pointing at Yezan who is busy building a sandcastle.
She says: “Look at him. He often enquires about his toys and throws a tantrum for some food he fancies, but we try to make him understand that very soon he will have all that he wants. But he is just a child. My heart weeps when we fail to keep him warm on the beach. A friend of mine who works in a beauty salon gives me Dh10 so that I can get some food for us. But how long can this go on? I want someone to help us. We don’t have any family members here in UAE.”