HOTELS full of escorts, secret drug deals and wild parties – this isn't a scene out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but a picture of the secret underworld of the Abu Dhabi party scene.
While to the rest of the world the capital of the UAE paints itself as a strict and proper, with a ban on everything from swearing to sex work – both which can result in prison sentencesof up to a year – behind the closed doors in the Arab state lies a secret party scene for the rich and famous.
Home to over 24,000 millionaires, and with an average salary of £4,500 a month, Abu Dhabi is one of the wealthiest cities in the world and is frequented by celebrities like footballer Jack Grealish, Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright, movie star Will Smith and TV mum Stacey Solomon.
While Love Island star Molly Mae Hague cosied up with daughter Bambi at home this week, footage emerged of her hubby-to-be dancing with girls at a party in the desert city.
But while the party Tommy Fury attended was legit and above board, there's another, somewhat darker side to the city he will not have seen – or even be aware of.
For 15 years, WAGS and wildly rich superstars like Kanye West, Naomi Campbell and Chris Hemsworth have been paid by Formula One and its sponsors to descend on the capital of the UAE for the annual Grand Prix – and with them, a shower of lavish booze-filled parties and diamond-dripped soirees.
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In recent years, influencers and Love Islanders have made the glittering state their number one holiday destination, with many securing press trips and ad opportunities there, mixing business with pleasure.
The government has pumped billions of pounds into making it an unforgettable event for its famous (and paying) guests – over £500 million a year, according to figures, not to mention the race track which cost over £1 billion to construct.
But the five star hotels and lavish clubs aren't just serving up champagne. Behind closed doors, anonymous tourists report bars buzzing with secret drug deals and escort services you'd never know existed.
One PR who lived and worked in Abu Dhabi saw the seedy scene first hand.
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“Tommy Fury is no stranger to Abu Dhabi. He’ll know the lay of the land by now – but he will have had no idea about what goes on in the underground party scene,” the anonymous insider tells Fabulous.
“Star-studded concerts, debauchery and endless money spent by the government makes Abu Dhabi the perfect escape to let your hair down, safe in the knowledge you can party just as hard as anywhere else, but the chances of getting caught are much smaller.
“With the right contacts and plenty of money, nothing is off-limits.”
Here, our insider reveals just what goes on behind closed doors in Abu Dhabi, and why so many are shunning Dubai for this shiny new Emirate.
High class escorts on demand
Behind the grandeur of Abu Dhabi’s five star hotels is a very well established escort service, luring blokes of all ages into a very expensive night in.
“The ultra-luxurious and super-discreet hotels are the perfect place to pick up a high-class prostitute if that’s what you want,” says our source. “You’ll see some of the most beautiful women in the world hanging out alone or in groups at the expensive bars, and everybody knows they have a price.”
According to British expats, who live in the Emirate, sex is on tap – but it’s so discreet, you wouldn’t know it.
In a public forum, an anonymous user wrote: “I’ve lived here for 10 years and the hotels are full of hookers who approach you for services…even if you’re with your wife.
“Escort websites offer nice hookers for about £150 an hour. It’s all widely available, but it’s so discreet that you wouldn’t realise it is.”
Drugs on the dance floor
The Emirates are famously strict on crime, and being caught with illegal drugs can land you in prison or leave you with a fine of up to £21,000.
Last year, a woman was even sentenced to death after half a kilo of cocaine was found in her Abu Dhabi apartment.
The city’s once strict anti-drug laws have since relaxed in the Emirates.
Now, if you’re caught with an illegal substance – and it’s your first time – you won’t be sent to prison.
“Drugs are harder to get in Abu Dhabi than a lot of places, but you can still get sorted if you know the right people,” says the insider.
Previous visitors have eagerly shared their knowledge on forums, with one writing: “The best way to get cannabis is by knowing a dealer or having friends from there.
“The downtown area is the best place to get them. Just text this number [digits were pasted into his comment] and they’ll deliver discreetly and safely.”
Meanwhile, cocaine – a common drug of choice among the rich and famous – has been smuggled in from around the world and is also available via a secret forum.
This year four African transit passengers were arrested trying to smuggle 18 kilograms of cocaine through Abu Dhabi airport, hiding the drugs in shampoo bottles and hidden compartments in their suitcases – with some even swallowing drug-filled capsules.
The illegal white powder – thought to arrive from Brazil and Nigeria – costs about £225 per gram. That's the highest average street price of cocaine in the world, according to the International Business Times.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on a gap year Ibiza holiday – it’s that easy to drink in Abu Dhabi.
The city only serves alcohol in hotels, bars or restaurants, but there’s an awful lot of it.
This year's Grand Prix saw boozed-up guests cause carnage in a mass brawl at the Yas Marina Circuit. A huge fight broke out at the track, ending in tears as party-goers flung glass bottles through the crowd.
“Weekends see almost every restaurant and hotel throw wild brunches where you pay anywhere between £50 and £150 for hours of unlimited food and alcohol,” says our source.
“A lot of people try to make their money back by downing as many beers, wines, cocktails and spirits as they can, and it means most of them are wasted by 4pm in the afternoon.”
The unspoken rule
Taking drugs and meeting escorts in public is illegal but in the Emirates, harsh slander laws mean many workers fear reporting anything untoward.
A guilty verdict of slander carries a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a fine, so it’s no surprise that local staff will keep zipped about anything they see or hear.
“Bar and hotel staff wouldn’t dream of uttering a word about a customer, and strict privacy and slander laws mean people don’t gossip much,” says our source.
“Taking candid photos of someone misbehaving is an absolute no-go, and can land you in serious trouble with the famously no-nonsense police.”
The new Dubai?
Abu Dhabi’s big brother Dubai once took the celebrity holiday hotspot with the likes of Maura Higgins, Amber Gill and even Tommy and Molly-Mae lapping up views from the Burj Khalifa and spending thousands in the luxurious shopping malls.
Last year, 18 million people visited Abu Dhabi and just 14.6 million landed in Dubai.
“People think that Abu Dhabi is a tranquil, conservative desert city – the sensible opposite of its famously hedonistic big brother, Dubai,” says our insider.
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“The city works hard to protect its family-friendly, luxurious image but if you scratch beneath the surface, sleaze and booze are never far away.”
That said, Abu Dhabi remains a hotspot for celeb holiday makers with more and more stars like Tommy, Lucy Mecklenburgh, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner jetting there to enjoy the luxury and glamour the city has to offer.
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