A U.K. dentist was released from jail and received a formal apology from the Dubai government after being detained for drinking one glass of wine.
Ellie Holman, 44, was on an 8-hour flight from London to Dubai with her four-year-old daughter on July 13 when she consumed a complimentary glass of red wine with her meal.
Once the flight landed, she was approached by officials and told that her passport was not valid. She was told to buy a same-day return trip ticket back to London.
According to Holman, she has used the passport several times and had no idea it was invalid.
The officer then asked her if she had been drinking alcohol, and she told him she had a glass of wine with dinner.
The officer told Holman that possession of alcohol was a crime, even if the alcohol was consumed, The Metro News reported.
Holman and her young daughter, Bibi, were detained in an airport detention cell, which Holman described as “foul smelling.”
She was not allowed to contact anyone, including her husband Gary Holman.
British mother jailed for drinking glass of wine reunited with family in UK https://t.co/ngUTWrxTlt
— Metro (@MetroUK) August 13, 2018
“My little girl had to go to the toilet on the cell floor. I have never heard her cry in the same way as she did in that cell. My passport remains confiscated until the case is settled, which I have been told will take at least a year. So far this situation has cost me around $30,000 in legal fees, expenses and missed work. My practice is closed. All our savings have gone,” Holman said.
She was able to use her cell phone to film some of the official’s rude behavior toward her.
During the three-day stay, Holman said the lights in the cell were left on all night. Neither she nor her daughter ate anything at all because the “food smelled like rotting garbage.”
Mr. Holman found out that his wife and daughter were in jail through friends in the state. He inquired over growing concerns because he had not heard from his wife in days.
He took a flight out to Dubai and was permitted to take Bibi home.
Mrs. Holman was granted bail but was ordered at that time to remain in Dubai until her case is settled.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, stepped in and told Holman she could go home.
Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said: “The UAE maintains a deliberately misleading facade that alcohol consumption is perfectly legal for visitors.”
Stirling said that Holman “was lucky to get out.”
It is legal to drink alcohol in flight but it is illegal to have alcohol in your blood on arrival. Therefore, it is illegal to drink in flight, even one drink. Same applies to hotels, bars. If you are tested, you could be detained. #EllieHolman was lucky to get out.
— Radha Stirling – CEO @detainedindubai (@RadhaStirling) August 12, 2018