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British officials warn tourists flying to Dubai not to drink on plane

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British visitors travelling to Dubai have been warned that they face the risk of arrest if they are found to have had any drinks on the flight over.

The shock new warning from British consular officials in the United Arab Emirates comes via a Facebook post after a mum was jailed after she drank a glass of wine on a flight to Dubai from the UK.

Dr Ellie Holman was locked up for three days and spent over a month under house arrest before the ruler of the Arab kingdom intervened and set her free.

She claimed her arrest came after being asked if she had consumed any alcohol on the flight from the UK.

British officials in the UAE posted this picture to Facebook along with a detailed warning


Dr Holman was arrested in Dubai and thrown into a ‘baking hot and foul smelling’ detention centre

Less than a month after her release, a posting on the Facebook page for the British Consul in the UAE states that having alcohol in your blood can lead to arrest.

The warning has been posted for expats living in the UAE.


But the NGO Detained in Dubai said it also applies to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the destination each year and are served alcohol on fights.

The British Foreign Office advice does not distinguish between expats and tourists but instead is a blanket warning that having alcohol in the bloodstream is an offence in the Muslim country and could lead to arrest.

Previous advice from the Foreign Office warned that anyone found drunk in public in the UAE could be arrested.


Detained in Dubai said they believe it is the first time such a warning has ever been posted by the British Consul.

British Consul in UAE states that having alcohol in your blood can lead to arrest

The blood-alcohol warning was posted on the official UK in UAE Facebook Page on Thursday night with advice primarily aimed at expats living in the Arab kingdom.


It states: ‘If you hold a residence permit it is illegal to purchase or consume alcohol without a liquor licence. Carry it with you at all times, NB a licence is only valid in the Emirate that issued it.

Sharjah Emirate is dry & drinking alcohol is illegal.

‘If caught carrying or drinking alcohol without a licence or with alcohol in your blood you can be arrested. It is a punishable offence to be under the influence of alcohol in public-including when transiting through the UAE. It can result in custodial sentences &/or fine (other offences committed while drunk will be heard separately).


‘Take care to respect local customs & behave respectfully when consuming alcohol.

‘There is zero tolerance for drink driving in the UAE. You can be arrested as a passenger in a car driven by someone with alcohol in their blood.

‘Only non-Muslims can obtain a licence. Tourists are unable to get a licence.’

The same message was posted to the consul’s Twitter account but the Foreign Office had not included it on their main travel advisory page for people visiting the UAE.

Under the ‘local customs’ heading the FCO warns being drunk in public is a punishable offence and warns British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law.

Dr Holman told Mail Online she was unaware that having alcohol in her blood could lead to arrest. She was served a glass of red wine with her meal by the country’s national airline Emirates.

Holman, who has lived in the UK for 20 years and holds dual Swedish and Iranian citizenship, was detained after arriving with her four year old daughter Bibi for a five-day holiday.

She had travelled to Dubai with an Iranian passport on a single-entry visa that had expired.

After a bust up with an immigration official who ordered her to return home she began filming him on her mobile phone.

She was then arrested by immigration officials after admitting she had drank one glass of wine on the flight from London and underwent a blood test at a police station.

Dr Holman told Mail Online she and Bibi were taken to a prison where they were forced to sleep in a sweltering prison dining room with other inmates and was left in the same clothes for three days.

After being released the 44 year old stayed with friends while authorities decided if she would be charged with consuming alcohol, insulting an immigration official and illegal filming.

She was released after the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed is said to have personally intervened. Dubai officials said she was arrested for filming and insulting an official but her arrest report also contains the charge of consuming alcohol.

Holman said she was spat at and had her hair pulled as she was bundled off to prison where she was held for hours without food or water.

Her daughter was refused permission to use a toilet and had to urinate on the floor.

A blood test confirmed she had drunk a glass of alcohol, but she was under the legal drink drive limit.

Describing her prison ordeal, she said: ‘There was no air conditioning in the cells, so the 30 women on the block would drag their mattresses out and sleep in the canteen area,

‘I didn’t know how long I would be in prison, but I had to be strong for Bibi and not show that I was afraid,’ she said.

‘A pregnant woman told me how she had been raped while being held in the prison. I feared it could happen to me, but thankfully with Bibi with me all the time nothing occurred.

‘The guards always referred to me as ‘that Iranian woman’. They never used my name but just that I was Iranian. I know the two countries do not get on and I think that played big part in what happened.’

After MailOnline publicised Ellie’s plight last month, she received a telephone call telling her the country’s ruler would sort out the problem.

She also received an apology and told she could leave on the first available flight back to the UK and was handed flowers at the airport by Government officials.


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