DUBAI (CNN) — A Chinese boy has been arrested for stowing away on a plane from Shanghai to Dubai, where he reportedly planned to make a fortune begging for money.
Chinese state media reported the 16-year-old from Bazhong City in China’s Sichuan province climbed a fence at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport on May 26 and sneaked into the cargo hold of an Emirates A380 passenger plane.
He hid there for the entire 9.5-hour flight.
The boy, identified only by his family name, Xu, was discovered and arrested by police in Dubai upon arrival.
“Emirates can confirm that on 27 May, a stowaway was found in the cargo hold of flight EK303 from Shanghai to Dubai,” said a statement released by Emirates.
“We are co-operating fully with authorities in Dubai and as this is a police matter we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Xu was reportedly aware that he was breaking the law but thought his status as a minor would protect him from arrest.
Regardless, he reportedly told authorities he was under the impression Dubai’s jails were comfortable, making the trip worth the risk.
Quoting interpreter Mian Jinlong, who met Xu in Dubai, Chinese state media reported that the teen thought panhandlers could make tens of thousands of dollars a month on Dubai’s streets.
Inaccurate posts on Chinese social media making such claims had previously gone viral, prompting some in China to joke that they would move to the city in order to make their fortunes.
“I hope that Chinese citizens will not follow such rumors,” said Ma Xuliang, China’s deputy consul general in Dubai, according to Chinese state media.
“The UAE has strict laws banning begging, violators of which will be punished in accordance with the law.”
Xu remains in police custody at the airport in Dubai, where he faces charges for endangering aviation safety and smuggling.
He will likely be deported and could be placed on a blacklist for trying to sneak into the United Arab Emirates.
“The consulate is working and communicating with local authorities,” a statement said.