Mother and daughter (4) jailed in Dubai over glass of wine on flight released
A mother detained in Dubai with her four-year-old daughter after drinking a complimentary glass of wine on a flight from London said she is pleased the "nightmare is coming to an end" after being given the all-clear to return to the UK.
Swedish dentist Ellie Holman, who lives in Sevenoaks in Kent with her English partner Gary and their three children, was facing an uncertain future after being arrested on July 13 having drunk one glass of wine on her eight-hour Emirates Airline flight to Dubai from London.
She was taken into custody after an immigration official questioned her about her visa and asked if she had consumed alcohol.
Dr Holman, 44, and her daughter Bibi were reportedly denied food, water and access to a toilet at the beginning of their ordeal when they were held in a cell together for three days.
She was faced with being detained in Dubai for up to a year while awaiting a court hearing.
But human rights group Detained in Dubai has confirmed the charges have been dropped.
Dr 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.
"Radha (Stirling, Detained in Dubai chief executive) told me to go ahead and collect my passport, that this has happened before.
"They apologised on behalf of the immigration official and 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".
Dr Holman and Bibi were travelling to Dubai for a five-day break to visit friends, having visited a number of times before.
In a statement, Ms Stirling 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 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, 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."