Are you planning a trip to Dubai? Well, Dr. Ellie Holman from Sweden, who currently lives in Kent in the United Kingdom, was arrested on arrival in the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai airport with her young daughter over unverified claims of her having an invalid passport. Things took a turn for the worst when she admitted that she had a glass of complimentary wine on the famous Emirates Airlines. She was arrested on the spot like a criminal, and carried through the airport like an animal.
After spending three days in a Dubai prison and in being detained for one month, she was released and flown back to the United Kingdom on Sunday after she was pardoned. Now finally back in the United Kingdom, she has spoken out about her ordeal to the Daily Mail in an exclusive interview.
In a shocking confession of her experience, Dr. Ellie Holman said, “They spat at me and pulled my hair. I feared I’d be raped.”
Indeed, this interview may forewarn others that wish to travel to Dubai, who don’t quite know the rules or what can happen to them whilst they visit the once thought to be idyllic location. When Daily Mail asked if Ellie would ever return to Dubai, she said, “No.”
Let’s take a look at Dr. Ellie Holman’s warning to others that wish to visit UAE’s most popular city, in a stark tell-all tale about the horrible treatment that she endured when she visited Dubai.
A shocking reality of different cultures, hypocrisy and harsh treatment over a glass of complimentary wine offered by Emirates Airlines, seeing her arrested and her 4-year old daughter detained at Dubai airport. So, does that mean that Emirates Airlines are committing a crime by serving alcohol, as well? Answers on an Emirates postcard please, as this is all very confusing…
Perhaps Dubai airport can put it down to incompetent airport staff, in order to explain this international blunder, tainting the image of Dubai and Emirates Airlines, right? Who knows? However, there is more to the story.
Seeing as Dr Ellie Holman, 44, was pardoned and released after three days in prison, this signifies that airport staff may have made a major mistake in the treatment of the mother, who was simply traveling with her 4-year old daughter.
Ellie Holman said she was treated as “inhuman” and the experience left her exhausted and taking anti-anxiety medicine since her return. “The last four weeks have been hell for me and my family” stated Ellie to the Daily Mail.
“I left to go on a holiday with my youngest daughter to a country I loved visiting and ended up in jail.”
“Nothing had prepared me for what happened, but my survival instinct kicked in and for my daughter’s sake I had to be strong.”
“It is like an out-of-body experience. I still can’t believe that I spent three days in jail. I have never been in trouble in my life and yet here I was sharing a cell block with 30 other women. It is unreal. I feel like I will wake up from a bad nightmare.”
Ellie was born in Iran, but grew up in Sweden and lived in the UK for twenty years. Needless to say, there was an emotional return to Gatwick on Sunday, after being reunited with her fiancé after the shocking ordeal that she faced in Dubai. Now, she says she will never go back, and you can’t really blame her, can you?
Apart from the three days spent in prison, she spent one month on house arrest in the conservative Arab kingdom, being told that she may need to wait one year before her case was to be heard. Ellie said, “‘I was desperately missing my children and all I could think about was when I would see them again.”
However, before she was due to fly home, the Dubai government gave her flowers, fast food for the children, and paid for her flight back home. The government made no mention of the charge for alcohol, but insisted she had an out of date passport, then reported in the newspapers in Dubai, that she had been deported.
Dr. Ellie Holman does regret filming the immigration officer at the airport, after the out of date passport debacle began, saying, “They have lied to save face but all I have ever done is tell the truth. I accept my big mistake was to film the immigration officer. I now realise that was stupid and I should not have done that.”
“But did that really warrant being jailed for three days with my daughter, being spat at and having my hair pulled?”
Ellie further clarified about the alcohol situation, “I enjoy a glass of wine with my meal and accepted it from the cabin crew. That was the only alcohol I had on the flight. I’ve flown to Dubai a dozen times and had a drink on the flight.”
“Everyone else on the flight was drinking with their meal. It is what happens.”
Seemingly, it may have been the Iran passport that alerted authorities, as she was told by the immigration office, “You get a ticket and go on a flight home.”
“I did not swear and told him I was told I could get a transit visa. He just refused to listen and he was so close I could feel his spit on my face. He was jabbing a finger in my face and was rude and aggressive.”
“He looked at me as if I was like the dirt under his shoes, and I think it was because I was from Iran. If it had been a European woman he might not have reacted in the same way.”
Ellie said she became afraid and started to film the incident with her phone, but now regrets doing that and in hindsight, that probably inflamed the situation.
“I was being honest and told him about the glass of wine. That was it. He just said you are drunk. I told him I’d had one glass, but he would not listen.”
After her arrest, Ellie said “The consul made all the right noises but they were useless” in reference to the UK consulate, as well as the Swedish Embassy, she said, “The Swedish embassy were also useless and did not want to help.”
However, it was the international breadth of the story that ultimately ensured Ellie Holman’s release, with the help of the Daily Mail, as Ellie pointed out, “I cannot thank Mail Online enough for helping me come back home. Without the story being publicised and taken up by other media I might still be there.”
“I used to love going to Dubai where I have many friends, but I will never go back. If I had known I could be arrested for having a single drink on the plane then I would never have touched a drop.”
An NGO said regarding Dubai’s alcohol laws, “Laws regarding alcohol are very confusing in Dubai and that is the problem. It is not illegal to drink in a licensed premises, such as a hotel, but as soon as you step out in public you can be arrested for having consumed alcohol or if you are deemed to be drunk.
“Elle was not drunk or aggressive. Her arrest highlights an issue that is an ongoing risk to travelers. Tourists can be charged with having alcohol in their bloodstream in public. They should be aware that they could be arrested the minute they leave for having alcohol in their blood.”
So there you have it! It’s a confusing mine field of alcohol laws in Dubai, but it is still an interesting place to visit. However, once stories like these emerge on the international news scene, it will make many people think twice about ever visiting Dubai, now or in the near future.
Story by The Narrator
Featured Photo Credit: Nick Edwards