London Police Probing 'Unexplained' Death of Emirati Ruler's Son

British tabloids publish rumors of drug use after self-proclaimed 'too Western' fashion designer's death at 39 ■ Emir's eldest son died in 1999 of heroin overdose, also in U.K.

Khalid Al Qasimi at the end of his collection show at Paris Fashion Week on January 20, 2013.
FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

The son of one of the United Arab Emirates' seven emirs, fashion designer Khalid Al Qasimi, has died in mysterious circumstances, CNN cited U.K. authorities as saying.

The Emirate of Sharjah announced Qasimi's death on Tuesday, after his body was found in London's upmarket Knightsbridge area in the city the day before.

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"A man in his late 30s was found deceased inside the property. [His] death is currently being treated as unexplained," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

An autopsy carried out Tuesday failed to determine the cause of death, they said.

Sharjah declared three days of mourning on Wednesday, with flags lowered to half-mast.

Qasimi's father, Sheikh Sultan bins Muhammad, posted photos and a video of the prayers on Instagram Wednesday.

Thirty-nine-year-old Qasimi, who was the Sharjah ruler's only next of kin, moved to London at the age of nine. "He was educated at Tonbridge School, where he was awarded an art scholarship upon entry, and went on to read French and Spanish at University College London," according to his fashion label's website. In 2008, he launched his fashion label, Qasimi, after graduating from the Central Saint Martins art school in London.  

"The design world has lost a great philosopher and artist and we ask that the privacy of the family, team and brand are respected at this difficult time," the label said in a statement.

Dubai's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as regional heads of states including those of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, sent their condolences to Sharjah.   

Qasimi is survived by three sisters and one half-sister. His twin sister is the director of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

His half-brother died in 1999, according to the official biography of Sharjah ruler Sultan Al Qasimi. The emir's eldest son died of a heroin overdose at 24, also in the U.K.

This week, British tabloids linked Qasami's death to drugs as well. The Daily Mail quoted unnamed staff at his fashion house as saying that he was known to heavily use methamphetamine and "hosted days-long sex parties," and reported that Qasimi died "after throwing what sources described as a drug-fueled orgy." The Sun meanwhile quoted an unnamed source as saying that the death occurred at "a party where some guests were taking drugs and having sex."

"Qasimi is a way for me to discuss what's going on around us whether it is politics or economics," the designer said in a previous interview with Japan Fashion TV. Some of his latest designs include £115 ($144) T-shirt with the writing in Arabic, that read: "Press. Don't Shoot."

"I've always considered myself to be an outsider wherever I am. I'm too Western to fit in in the Middle East, and too Middle Eastern to fit in in the west. At the same time, I don't think I'm the kind of person that wants to fit in either way. I like to observe," he was quoted as saying in an interview with Style.com/Arabia.