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This Man Was Stuck in an Airport for Nine Months

This Man Was Stuck in an Airport for Nine Months
Jackie Reddy

A Syrian man who left his country in 2006 to work in the United Arab Emirates eventually found himself caught up in the instability caused by the Arab Spring. Hassan al Kontar eventually found himself stranded in Kuala Lumpur, but the kindness of a stranger saw him at last released from this ordeal.

A Syrian man marooned in Kuala Lumpur’s airport for months was released from his ordeal by the kindness of a stranger, reports WBUR. Back in 2006, 37-year-old Hassan al Kontar emigrated to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in search of work, but soon found himself caught up in the instability of the Arab Spring movement.

As a consequence of this, Al Kontar, who had worked as an insurance marketing manager, was not able to get his work visa renewed. His choice was stark: stay in the UAE illegally or return to Syria and be conscripted into the nation’s military. Al Kontar chose to remain in the UAE.

But the outlet reports that Al Kontar was forced to leave the country and travel to Malaysia on a temporary visa. After his Malaysian documents expired, he went on to Ecuador, where visas can be obtained upon entering the country.

While Al Kontar had departed Syria to help his family via financial remittances sent from the UAE, he now found himself receiving assistance from them; he says that his mother sold her jewelry to help fund his ticket to the South American nation.

Inspecting his travel documents before the flight, he said that, “I double-checked everything with the ticket because I knew it was my last chance.” But just before he boarded, his ticket was canceled without any further explanation. He found himself stuck in Kuala Lumpur’s airport without any money and no travel documents.

Despite reaching out to various organizations, Al Kontar received no assistance. He then began recording and uploading videos of himself to Twitter. These, the outlet reports, were lighthearted and even jovial.

Speaking of the motive behind his posts, Al Kontar said that he was, “…reminding myself — and the outside world — that I’m still a human who deserves to be treated as a human, who should live a normal life.”

But Al Kontar’s posts garnered the attention of Laurie Cooper, a mother-of-two from Whistler, British Columbia. While official embassies and charities failed to respond to Al Kontar, Cooper began to exchange messages with him.

What’s more, Cooper, who works in conjunction with a charitable organization called Canada Caring, made applications on behalf of Al Kontar., who was also being threatened with deportation back to Syria. She hoped to help him gain entry into Canada.

“In Hassan’s situation, I kind of thought, well, his mom can’t help him so maybe I’m in a position to help him. So my personal motivation kind of comes from being a mom,” she said.

Months after their initial contact, Cooper received word that Al Kontar would be granted entry to Canada. He arrived in Vancouver on November 26th, 2018. Speaking of her emotions upon his arrival, Cooper said, “Truly, when I saw him at the airport, I felt like my son was coming home. My son was home now.”

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)


  1. 747jetter

    April 19, 2019 at 8:37 am

    No money but smart phone. Ok.

  2. strickerj

    April 19, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Any idea why his ticket to Ecuador was canceled? (And if it was the airline that did it or by order of one of the governments involved?) Hopefully he was compensated for the cancellation.

  3. afCAMEO


    April 19, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    What did he live on for 9 months with no money, Also, how did he pay his phone bill? Sad story if it’s true, but…

  4. Aidan

    April 23, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Food situation not sure, unless he had some lounge access from before the incident.

    The phone probably just be on free wifi.

    Also after a few weeks and minimal resources you would make friends at the airport and most likely get some free stuff. He did have time on his hands, to become resourceful.

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