Young expat children in Dubai are “getting their kicks” through heavy drinking and drug use at invitation-only parties across the Emirate, leading to youth deaths and troubled family lives.
In the spotlight this week are British expat families in particular, following the death of a 15-year-old Brit, Harry Harling, who fell from the 11th floor of a disused Dubai apartment block to his death after an alcohol-fuelled night out, the Daily Mail reported.
The teenager is understood to have moved to the United Arab Emirates with his family nine years ago.
A 16-year-old schoolboy, named Ben, spoke to the newspaper attempting to shed light on the social circles expat teens in Dubai, like him and Harry, have been moving in.
Ben, whose family name was not mentioned to protect their privacy, explained that “the weekends are all about alcohol for expat teenagers here in the Emirates,” the newspaper reported.
“In the summer, it gets too hot and we can’t go out, so drinking is the only way to let off steam,” said Ben.
The report also learnt that youngsters would arrange “pay-for-entry parties, often held in deserted, unfinished apartment blocks, featuring not just drinking but widespread abuse of butane and other intoxicating gases.”
Now expat parents could be wising up to a mysterious behind-the-scenes culture their children are becoming increasingly exposed to.
A schoolteacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Mail, said the social scene in Dubai and the emirate’s general environment has pushed young people to danger.
“They can’t earn money because all the jobs are taken by workers from the subcontinent, and for months at a time in the summer it is too hot to go outside,” he said.
“It’s a rather synthetic environment, and they end up with time on their hands and not much to do. It’s a potent combination.
“I’d go so far to call it a pressure-cooker, and the result is that teenagers here drink more — way more — than they do in the UK.
“School finishes for the weekend at just after midday on Thursday. Every week, within hours, the teenagers are too drunk to walk,” the teacher added.
Generally, British expats have been lured to Dubai, a Middle Eastern business hub, under the guise of a glossy tax-haven work environment, with good schools and low crime levels.
But Dubai’s strict laws governing the consumption of alcohol – which dictate that it is illegal to drink under the age of 21 and that adult expats have to apply for a ‘liquor license’ to be able to buy alcohol from state-approved stores – have not stopped the teens from rebelling.
Just hours before he died, Harry had tweeted he was enjoying “beers and tanning with the lads,” the Mail reported. While an enquiry by the paper established he had attended a boys-only ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ party in the hours leading up to his death.
Dubai police chief Brigadier Khaleel Ibraheem al-Mansouri said that Harry was “angry” after he had been drinking at the party with friends when he had an argument with one of them.
Mansouri said: “Our investigation shows that he was attending a party with his friends in a flat in the same area and was consuming alcohol when a big dispute took place between them.
“He left the party angry and went to an empty building nearby, and jumped from a window on the 11th floor and died instantly.
“His friends said that they didn’t know what he was going to do,” he added.
Dubai Police officials have completed investigations into the death of the 15-year-old but questions remain over the social circles expat teens choose to move in and whether the culture will continue to wreck young lives.