August 15, 2018

Mother and daughter, 4, jailed in Dubai for drinking wine feared being raped

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A mother's holiday turned into a nightmare as she was jailed for drinking a glass of wine

On the 13th of July 2018, Dr. Ellie Holman was on a flight to Dubai with her 4-year-old daughter, Bibi. Emirates Airline staff served dinner and offered her a glass of wine, which she accepted.

Holman, 44, is a dentist who works as a private Botox specialist, and she flies frequently to Dubai. On arrival at Dubai International Airport, she was informed by the authorities that her Swedish passport was out-of-date. 

She presented her Iranian passport and was told the visa was no longer valid, and she'd have to reschedule her return flight and leave the country, reported MailOnLine.



'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."

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, MailOnLine, 15th of August 2018.

Holman declares that she protested and that the official attending her immediately asked her if she had been drinking. She admitted that she had had a glass of wine onboard, and was immediately arrested for swearing at an officer, and being drunk.

Holman detailed the brutality of her arrest, during which her hair was pulled, and she was dragged off her feet by many men, as she heard her daughter screaming. She later confessed she was afraid that she would be raped.


Read more about Ellie Holman on our Twitter account @amomama_usa.


Holman and her daughter were taken to a police station where she was asked to take a breathalyzer test.

The policewoman attending her told Holman that she would be imprisoned whether or not she took the test, so she agreed. 

Holman was then taken to prison and locked up with her four-year-old daughter for three days in what she describes as inhuman conditions, sharing a cell block with 30 other women.

She was released from jail into house arrest at a friend's home and her daughter was allowed to return to the UK. Holman was told she might have to wait a year for a court hearing.


Holman reached out to the Swedish Embassy to no avail, so she contacted Detained in Dubai. Detained in Dubai is a British-based not-for-profit organization founded by attorney Radha Stirling to help foreigners abroad, regardless of their citizenship. 

The organization reached out to Dubai's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and he ordered Holman's release.


The Dubai government paid for her flight home and presented her with a bouquet of flowers when she left. A relieved Holman was soon landing at Gatwick and reunited with her fiancee Gary and her three children: Bibi, four, Noah, eight, and Suri, nine.

Dubai is one of the UAE which has strict laws on alcohol consumption. Foreigners living in Dubai and tourists over 21 are allowed to drink alcohol, but only in licensed venues such as hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs.

It is illegal to be drunk in public. Many visitors fall foul of this law when they come to the attention of police for rowdy behavior or even if they are the victim of a crime.