French couple moves to Dubai to help ailing son live in 'best place on Earth'

Leaving behind their successful careers in Paris, they started from scratch in a new city. Now, they are building a home of hope



Alexandre. Photo: File
Alexandre. Photo: File
by

Anjana Sankar

Published: Tue 21 Dec 2021, 4:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Dec 2021, 9:55 PM

French national Lousin Mehrabi and her husband were devastated when their six-year-old son Alexandre was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), an incurable condition that will nip his life short.

Doctors from the best hospitals in France said there was nothing they could do to help — but the couple was not willing to give up. They wanted to give their son the best life possible, and let him live “in the best place on Earth”. They moved to Dubai.

“My son was diagnosed in June 2017 and in September, we relocated to Dubai. After living between hope and despair, we decided that if we did not have any control over how long he lives, at least we can give him the best quality of life. I know Dubai is the best place on Earth,” Lousin, a corporate negotiator, told Khaleej Times.

Lousin had a difficult birth with Alexandre, and she knew something was off with her son.

“We had just celebrated his sixth birthday when a neurologist informed us that something was wrong with his health. We went through a never-ending period of blood tests, muscle biopsy, MRI scan, heart scan, lung analysis and more to determine what was going on. And then it was confirmed: my son has DMD.”

Alexandre, now 10, is confined to a wheelchair, and the maximum lifespan he can expect is between late teens and early 30s. His muscles are breaking down.

ALSO READ:

“His condition is fatal and I could not accept it for a long time. Neurologists said the best things we can offer him is physiotherapy, swimming and the sun. We were living in France, near Paris, and one evening I told my husband: ‘Let’s move to Dubai’,” Lousin said.

It was not an easy decision to give up their successful careers in France and relocate to a new city.

“All our friends and family advised us against it, especially because France has advanced healthcare. But we had no time to waste. Our son could probably walk only a few more years,” said the mother.

The couple had visited their close friends in Dubai several times earlier and fell in love with the city. “Within three months, we organised everything and moved to Dubai. It was September 2017, temperatures were crossing 40° Celsius. We had to find a house, buy all the furniture, start a new school, new job, find our way around. It was hard.”

But it was all worth it, she said. “I wanted to give my son the highest quality of life and I know he is in the best place on earth. Sunshine, white beaches, swimming pools, amusement parks — everything a young boy would love! I’ve never felt more ‘at home’ than I do here.”

ALSO READ:

“This is home. This is where love is. This is where we belong. My heart is full of gratitude. The Rulers of the UAE promote inclusion, equality, and accessibility for who they beautifully call ‘people of determination’,” Lousin wrote on LinkedIn to express her love for the Emirates on National Day.

Creating a home for kids of all abilities

The couple, who owns a house in Dubai’s Victory Heights, has decided to give back to the community by converting it into a ‘Home of Hope’ for all children with special needs. “We visited over 50 houses, but each time we saw one, there was something that made it inaccessible or even dangerous for Alexandre. And since Dubai is the city we love, we decided to buy a house and make it wheelchair-friendly,” Lousin recalled.

Their house will be ‘fully accessible’ — with ramps, an elevator, wet rooms, a swimming pool, and more. “It’s a massive project and we’re putting in everything we have to make it a reality,” she said.

Home of Hope is not only for Alexandre. “The sad reality is that many children in wheelchairs are never invited to play dates or birthday parties. And if they are invited, they often can’t attend as the venue isn’t accessible for them. Our Home of Hope will be a place for children of all abilities to play and have fun,” said Lousin.


More news from UAE