A teenager from China – who stowed away on an Airbus passenger jet flying from his home country to Dubai – decided on the daring feat because he wanted to start a new life as a ‘professional beggar’.
The 16-year-old boy, known simply as Xu, said he did it because he had heard online that beggars in Dubai could make 470,000 yuan (around £49,300) a month.
He had managed to remain undetected onboard a huge Emirates A380 plane in Shanghai – hiding away in the cargo hold for the entire nine hour journey, until he was discovered and arrested by Dubai police when he reached his destination.
China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported that a translator appointed by prosecutors said that the teen had jumped over a fence at Shanghai airport and climbed into the cargo hold while a security guard’s back was turned.
His story has sparked debate in China over misinformation in the media – as Xu is believed to have read on social media that beggars in Dubai could make nearly £5,000 a month.
Average annual wages in China are around 5,000 Yuan (approximately £3,000).
It is believed the youngster was inspired by the trend and decided to take a stab at the great aeroplane adventure.
A hashtag on a Twitter-like website called Sina Weibo – one of the most popular social media sites in China – has since gone viral saying: #DubaiBeggarsMake470000YuanMonthly.
Some users praised Xu for his bravery and moxie – others slammed the media for spreading rumours about the riches that Dubai had to offer.
The translator confirmed that the teen had ‘risked his life’ sneaking into Dubai.
The translator added that Xu, from Bazhong in the Sichuan province, had accepted his arrest because he’d heard that Dubai prisoners were “treated very well”.
The Chinese consulate in Dubai has sent staff members to meet with him.
A statement by the airline said: “Emirates can confirm that on 27th May, a stowaway was found in the cargo hold of flight EK303 from Shanghai to Dubai.”