I’ve seen lots of heartwarming reunion stories, but it’s rare we see friends reunite after as many as 32 years like this.
After losing touch after high school, the once inseparable AJ and Kareem met again after over three decades of not seeing or talking to each other. It goes to show how strong bonds can be.
In 1977 AJ’s dad accepted a job in Alain in the United Arab Emirates, while Kareem’s parents were doctors from Czechoslovakia, who also moved to the city for work.
The pair met in 4th grade and were assigned to each other so AJ could teach Kareem to speak Arabic. They were instantly best friends but at the age of 18 went their separate ways, unable to stay in touch.
Talking to UNILAD about his and Kareem’s friendship, AJ said:
We became best of friends. He taught me some Czech and I taught him Arabic language, helped him with school work and we spent every afternoon either at my house or his.
He was closer than my brothers and own family. He and I were close.
We had so many adventures in the UAE together, always protecting each other and being best buddies.
When I came to the United States after high school my name was changed based on the American system, they abbreviated my first name and used my last name that was on documents, not the real family name that wasn’t on paper.
The change to AJ’s name made him impossible to find as he was not on social media and had no contacts with anyone from the UAE.
He explained that kids in the UAE are ‘all from different countries’ and because their time was so transient, they often lost contact.
UAE kids are all from different countries, and parents came, worked a few years then went away. No one was really from the UAE. We were all foreigners.
AJ said he made attempts to search for Kareem on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for years with no luck, but a fateful last-minute change to his holiday plans brought them together again after 32 years.
Explaining how he finally got in touch with Kareem, AJ said:
Finally my wife and I had vacation plans to go to Switzerland and Austria, and I added Prague in the last four days in the hope I would find him.
When I arrived I searched the different spellings of last names and found two women by that name and also a young kid.
I sent several messages and one of the women, who was living in Jordan, told me she was married to his cousin and she knew of Kareem in Prague so would contact him and ask if she can share his contact details with me.
He never responded to her, but another lady who responded was his first cousin, and she agreed to become a Facebook friend with me.
The woman was suspicious of AJ at first, but after monitoring his photos and travels on Facebook she agreed that the story ‘adds up’ so gave him Kareem’s telephone number.
AJ said he felt ’17 again’ when Kareem answered the phone and he shed a ‘tear of joy’:
Talking about the emotional first phone call, AJ said:
I called him from the hotel lobby on day two in Prague and he answered me, my wife was documenting the calls with photos. I felt overwhelmed with joy and peace.
He came over after a few hours and we walked to meet his wife and spent all Friday night drinking beer and catching up, crying many times, laughing more, and we had many memories. Our wives became instant friends.
The two 50-year-old men spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday together before Kareem dropped them at the airport.
The pair are now planning for Kareem to visit Texas next year, so the wait to reconnect will be far shorter this time!
What a beautiful story.