Adeeb Sami, 52, who heads the Al Ain and Oman operations of engineering consultancy Aecom Middle East, dived over his sons Abdullah, 29, and Ali, 23, as the gunman burst into the mosque during Friday prayers and started firing indiscriminately.
Among the worshippers caught in the gunfire were Adeeb and his two sons.
“My dad is a real hero. He got shot in the back near his spine in an attempt to shield my brothers but he didn’t let anything happen to them,” Adeeb’s daughter, Heba, 30, told Gulf News in a voice choked with emotions.
Adeeb was rushed to a hospital where he underwent surgery to extract the bullet.
Heba said she has been in touch with her family and is relieved to know that her father is out of danger.
“I spoke to dad. He sounded weak and appeared inconsolable.
“My family survived the attack but many of our friends didn’t. Among the nearly 50 dead are five close family friends, including a 12-year-old boy,” said Heba, who was raised in Dubai and now is part owner of a design company.
Heba said her dad had flown to New Zealand with her mum Sana Alahar on Thursday to surprise their son and daughter on their birthday.
“Ali and Hamsa are twins. They turned 23 today [Friday]. So my parents flew down to New Zealand to celebrate the occasion. Who would have thought the celebration would turn into a national mourning? I wonder if we will ever be able to come to terms with this terrible tragedy. It has shaken me to the core and left me numb with shock and disbelief. My day has passed in an unrealistic blur. My phone has not stopped ringing since the news of the attack broke on TV. You get to see such things only in movies.