Over recent years the UAE has been dominating headlines in the Middle East. Supporting counter-revolutions in Egypt; propping up military dictators in Sudan; pummelling neighbouring states with military strikes and repressing popular uprising, the Emirates known also as “little Sparta” has become a force to be reckoned with.
Here in London, however, the rich Gulf state is also gaining a reputation for domestic feuds and family tragedies amongst royals within the ruling families. Last week headlines were dominated by Dubai’s Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussein, who left her husband Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and fled the UAE to London.
Al-Hussein, who is the sister of King Abdullah of Jordan, is thought to be currently hiding in London and has taken £31 million ($39 million) to “start her new life” in the UK capital with her two children, seven-year-old Zayed and 11-year-old Al-Jalila.
This week it is the tragic death of Sheikh Khalid Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, son of the ruler of Sharjah – one of the seven emirates making up the UAE – that has hit the headlines.
The 39-year-old who had forged a career as a fashion designer in London died in unexplained circumstances at his family’s home in Knightsbridge, according to the police. While no date has been set, an inquest is expected to follow to uncover the cause of his death.
The police said that they had received a report of “a sudden death at a residential property in Knightsbridge” on Monday at around 10:30am. A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday but proved inconclusive, and further tests are expected.
A tribute posted on his brand’s Instagram account says: “It is with great sadness that we report that Khalid Al Qasimi has unexpectedly passed away on 1st July 2019. Khalid was praised for his tenacious yet sensitive exploration of social-political issues, particularly those pertaining to the Middle East and its sometimes strained relationship with the West, a subject very close to his heart and his upbringing. ‘His goal was to create a world full of beautifully crafted products infused with cultural, social and political undertones to inform and inspire.”
Khalid’s death is the second tragedy to hit the Al-Qasimi family. His older brother Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan died of a heroin overdose in 1999 at his family’s English country estate.