Social Media Star Going for Surgery Unites Qatar

Published August 9th, 2017 - 12:30 GMT
Ghanim, a genuine champ. (YouTube / Paralympic Games)
Ghanim, a genuine champ. (YouTube / Paralympic Games)

Qataris have rallied behind a teenage social media star, who was born without three-quarters of his body, as he went into a life-saving surgery.

Members of the Gulf emirate's royal family sent best wishes on Tuesday for Ghanim al-Muftah as he entered the operating room.

Muftah's twin brother said late on Tuesday that his sibling was recovering from the five-hour surgery to remove part of his gastrointestinal tract but that it would take at least two weeks before doctors could determine if it had succeeded.

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani wished the 15-year-old a speedy recovery.

"We ask God almighty to dress our hero Ghanim al-Muftah in the robes of good health and that he comes back as we know him, full of optimism and determination," Sheikh Mohammed said on his official Twitter account.

Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, sister of the Qatari Emir, said: "Your prayers for the hero Ghanim al-Muftah, may God restore him to good health and bring him back safe."

Many Qatari social media users have echoed the wishes of the royals, using the Arabic-language hashtag #GhanimMuftah.

Muftah, who has over 900 thousand followers on his Instagram account, was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare physical ailment that impairs the development of the lower spine.

But that has not stopped him from living his life to the fullest.

The aspiring athlete travelled to Lebanon as a goodwill ambassador in 2015 to a Palestinian refugee camp to raise funds for displaced children.

He was the subject of a short documentary by the Paralympic Games, in which he showed off his skateboarding and scuba diving skills.

Earlier this year, he made headlines when he made a lesser pilgrimage to Mecca and walked around the Kaaba using his hands instead of using a wheelchair.

Muftah met with Emir Sheikh Tamim in May at a graduation ceremony for military recruits.

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