British mother jailed in Dubai with four-year-old daughter over wine and visa row

A British mother was jailed in Dubai after being challenged over drinking a glass of complimentary wine en route to the country with her four-year-old daughter.

Ellie Holman, 44, from Sevenoaks in Kent was informed that her visa had expired upon arrival to the conservative Arab country of UAE, and was told she would need to return to the UK immediately.

The dentist, who was travelling with her young daughter, Bibi, was reluctant to do so after an eight-hour flight. She became embroiled in a heated exchange with the airport official.

He then asked Dr Holman if she had been drinking, to which she replied, “Yes, I had a glass of wine on the flight. Given to me free by Emirates Airline staff,” reports the Sun.

Dr Holman was informed that possession of alcohol is a crime in the UAE, even if this is inside a person’s body. 

Police and immigration staff moved in and escorted the frightened pair to an airport cell, where their phones and passports were taken from them. Dr Holman also stated that officials tried to forcibly remove her hair extensions. 

After two hours, the pair were put in a police car and Dr Holman was required to provide a blood sample for an alcohol test. The result showed that she had just 0.04 per cent of alcohol in her blood, which is below the UK drink drive limit. 

Dr Holman and Bibi were returned to the airport detention centre, where she claimed the pair were refused food, water and told they could not visit the bathroom for two hours, resulting in her daughter being forced to go to the toilet on the cell floor. 

They spent three days in the detention centre, which she described as “baking hot and foul smelling.”

After eventually being released, her partner, Gary, flew out to Dubai to accompany Bibi home, but Dr Holman must remain in the country and faces spending up to a year there while her case is processed.

According to her lawyers, Detained in Dubai, she has been released on bail, but her experience has cost her £30,000 in legal fees, expenses and missed work. 

Dr Holman said: “My passport remains confiscated until the case is settled, which I have been told will take at least a year.

“My practice is closed. All our savings have gone.”

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