Brits warned not to drink alcohol on Dubai-bound flights after woman was imprisoned for allegedly drinking wine on Emirates flight

Brits warned not to drink alcohol on Dubai-bound flights after woman was imprisoned for allegedly drinking wine on Emirates flight

British tourists and travelers transiting through the United Arab Emirates are being forewarned that they are liable to be arrested if alcohol is found in their blood. Passengers on flights to the UAE could be apprehended by authorities when they land if they consume alcohol during the transit.

The British Consulate in the UAE posted the official warning on their Facebook page, UK in UAE. The Consulate further warned that visitors to Dubai, a major tourist destination, could be arrested even if they are a passenger in a car driven by somebody who has consumed alcohol, according to The Independent.

The post states: “If caught carrying or drinking alcohol without a license or with alcohol in your blood, you can be arrested. It is a punishable offense to be under the influence of alcohol in public – including when transiting through the UAE.”

According to the Consulate, one can be slapped with a custodial sentence and/or a fine if found to have traces of alcohol in their blood. It added that “there is zero tolerance for drink driving in the UAE.” The warning applies to all visitors to the UAE, not just British tourists or expats. 


The announcement comes after Dr. Ellie Holman, who lives in Sevenoaks in Kent with her English partner Gary and their three children, was detained on July 13 for allegedly "drinking a complimentary glass of wine" on her eight-hour Emirates Airline flight to Dubai from London.

According to the 44-year-old, she was interrogated when she landed about her visa and if she had consumed alcohol, and subsequently taken into custody. Dr. Holman was held for a month before authorities released her.

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, commented in a statement: “Ellie’s arrest highlights two issues that are ongoing risks to travelers. One is that it is entirely illegal for tourists to consume alcohol, even if it is a minute amount and was provided by a licensed vendor or airline. Often alcohol charges are opened because they are easy to prosecute, rather than prosecuting for another charge that would be harder to prove. Another issue has been that complaints are opened against victims for the sole purpose of requesting compensatory payments to cancel the case. The complainant is not required to prove that the person was offensive, his word is enough to secure a prosecution. This leads to false accusations for extortive purpose and has been the cause of many wrongful detentions."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated: "Laws and customs are very different to those in the UK,” and added: “You should respect local traditions, customs, la, s and religions at all times. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK.

The seven emirates that constitute the UAE have varying degrees of rules and regulations. In this case, residents of the Dubai Emirate can only consume alcohol only if they have a license to do so. However, it gets worse in more conservative Emirates like Sharjah, where drinking alcohol itself is illegal. 

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