Pubdate: 11 April 1999
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Graham Duffill and Simon Brooke


THE eldest son of the ruler of the Emirate state of Sharjah died at
the family's English country estate after taking heroin and alcohol,
an investigation into his death has revealed.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi was found dead in bed at midday
last Saturday when domestic staff tried to raise him. The 24-year-old,
who had recently graduated as an officer in the Gulf state's police
force, appeared to have choked on his vomit.

However, tests carried out by pathologist Dr Iain West were also
understood to have revealed that the prince had taken a potentially
lethal amount of heroin, according to police sources.

The cause of death will not only embarrass his family - Dr Sheikh
Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi still insists on a total alcohol ban in
the country - but highlights a growing problem with the children of
the oil-state rulers.

'Young boys grow up with mobile phones, expensive cars and more money
than they can ever spend," said one resident.

Heroin is widely available in the Emirates via Iran, Afghanistan and
Pakistan. "The biggest users are not western expatriates, as the
United Arab Emirates government would like its residents to believe,
but its own indigenous population," said a Sharjah doctor. "We know
there are an increasing number of opium overdose cases but they
control the media and will not admit it."

Mohammed spent large parts of his youth in England and was educated at
a private school in the West Country before being sent to America to
study business.

He was the product of the sheikh's first marriage, but his father
divorced his mother when the boy was four and then married a German,
Sonja Ohlig. He divorced her after 12 years without her knowledge and
subsequently married a Palestinian, Sheika Jawaher, in 1991.

The family made frequent visits to Britain, occupying five or six
suites at the London Marriott hotel in Grosvenor Place, but in 1989
the sheikh paid UKP3m for the country estate in East Sussex of the
late property tycoon Lord Samuel of Wych Cross.

"I heard Sultan is very upset and sent him my condolences," said a
friend of the family. "But as soon as we heard the news everyone in
Sharjah asked the same question: was it a car crash, Aids or drugs?
That's what you expect." 
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