Woman arrested with daughter in Dubai over drinking wine is released


A woman who was detained in Dubai with her four-year-old daughter after drinking a complimentary glass of wine on a flight from London has expressed her relief after she was cleared by authorities and allowed to return home.

Ellie Holman, a dentist originally from Sweden who lives in Sevenoaks, Kent, with her husband and three children, had been facing a year in detention while awaiting a court hearing after she was arrested on 13 July having drunk one glass of wine on her eight-hour Emirates flight to Dubai.

Holman said she was excited to return to England, but revealed the detention had cost her family tens of thousands of pounds and used up all of their savings.

Human rights group Detained in Dubai, which has been assisting Holman, 44, said authorities in the United Arab Emirates had decided not to pursue the charges. Holman is due to return to the UK on Sunday.

The dentist and her young daughter were initially denied access to a toilet, water and food while being held in a cell for three days, according to the human rights group.

Holman said: “I am shocked and excited to be returning home to England and that this nightmare is coming to an end.

“When I answered the phone this morning and was told that I was being let go and needed to collect my passport, I couldn’t believe it and wondered if it was a trap.

“They apologised on behalf of the immigration official and I was told that I was free on Sheikh Mohammed’s orders and welcome to return to Dubai. They helped me to arrange flights out of the country.

“This situation has cost us tens of thousands and we have had to use all of our savings, which is devastating to us.”

Holman and her daughter, Bibi, were travelling to Dubai for a five-day break to visit friends.

Radha Stirling, Detained in Dubai’s chief executive, said: “We are very happy for Dr Holman that the government of Dubai decided not to pursue the charges they brought against her for consuming the complimentary glass of wine provided by their own government-owned airline.

“Obviously this case never should have happened, and Dr Holman and her four-year-old daughter should never have been detained and mistreated.

“She should not have suffered the considerable financial loss incurred by her detention, and her daughter should never have been subjected to this needless trauma.

“However, the fact is, that this case was not a ‘mistake’; it was perfectly in keeping with the confused laws of the UAE pertaining to alcohol, and what should never have happened will inevitably happen again to another unsuspecting traveller who accepts a free alcoholic beverage from Emirates Airlines on a flight to Dubai.

“Dismissing the case of Dr Holman does not resolve the problematic policies in the UAE that allowed this case to happen; and tourists must understand that they still face serious risk of prosecution in Dubai for any number of offences that they may not even know are offences.

“They will offer you alcohol on their airline, and arrest you at the airport for accepting it. This can only be regarded as such a deliberate attempt to misrepresent UAE rules on alcohol that it amounts to entrapment.

“So while we are happy for Dr Holman, we continue to fear for other travellers to and through the UAE who may well find themselves in legal trouble through no fault of their own.”



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