“It’s just a huge favor, and we are still in shock because we didn’t even know how to get the money,” Tijani Abdulkareem, the Nigerian father of newly born quadruplets in Dubai, said when he was informed that the Dubai Crown Prince was paying the medical bills of his children.

Abdulkareem had since July 1 – when he welcomed his new babies – been having sleepless nights because he is not in a position to foot the whopping medical bill of $11,500.

“I had been sleepless wondering how to pay the bill,” Abdulkareem, who is a chef at a restaurant in the city, opined.

His 29-year-old wife Suliyat Adulkareem gave birth to two boys and two girls at the Latifa Hospital for Women and Children on July 1 – two months ahead of the due date. The quadruplets had to be placed on ventilators at the neonatal intensive care unit after an emergency C-section.

Their initial plan was to move to their home country, Nigeria, to deliver since they did not have any health insurance in Dubai. However, the coronavirus travel restrictions got them stranded in the United Arab Emirates.

Life has never been the same ever since. They have been living on handouts from fellow Nigerian nationals. They also needed a bigger space to accommodate their new guests at home once they are discharged from the hospital. The story of the Adulkareems dominated media headlines and caught the eye of the Crown Prince.

According to CNN, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum instructed his office to pay the hospital expenses of the “Nigerian mother and her quadruplets stranded in the city with mounting medical bills.”

It was all tears of joy when officials at the Latifa Hospital for Women and Children broke the good news to Adulkareem and his wife. Already, the family has returned the favour in their own small way by deciding to name two of their babies after the Crown Prince. Also, one of the girls will be called Latifa after the hospital.

“We would like to express our gratitude on behalf of the family to the UAE leaders, Sheikh Hamdan and the Latifa Women and Children’s Hospital for the love and compassion shown to our family during this challenging and beautiful experience,” the couple said in a statement reproduced by The National.

“We are immensely grateful and we can’t thank you all enough. It is only Allah that can repay you all for all the good deeds. We will never forget you.”

“The family hopes that this very little gesture demonstrates the families gratitude and appreciation to the leadership and the love we have for this country,” the couple said. “We hope, if given the chance, to personally thank Sheikh Hamdan for his unconditional love and benevolence. If that opportunity does not arise we would hope that our message somehow gets to him.”

“Finally we would like to express our gratitude to the Nigerian community in the UAE, the Nigerian Consulate UAE, the Portuguese and other residents that have come to our aid during this time. The diversity in the country is its strength. Without the openness and welcoming nature of the UAE leaders and people we would not have had the opportunity to witness this love. God bless the UAE, its leaders, citizens and the residents,” the statement added.

The couple lives in a hostel in Dubai and the cost of renting a bigger place was clearly going to overwhelm them. The young family expressed gratitude to the Nigerian community and other nationals who came to their aid by paying for two months of their rent for a bigger place to house them. “We have been getting calls from Portuguese and Brazilian nationals in Dubai. People have been trying to reach us. The Nigerian community has been following us every step of the way,” CNN quoted Abdulkareem.

Currently, the quadruplets are no longer on ventilators and two of them now weigh 1.8 kilograms. Doctors expect they will soon be strong enough to go home.

Nigeria’s repatriation efforts have not been without a few dramatic bumps.

In May, a Nigerian woman on board a plane that was repatriating about 264 of her compatriots from the United Arab Emirates gave birth mid-air en route to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

The mother and child are now reportedly in good health while efforts are being made to re-enplane those who are willing and able to go back home.