By Chris York
Ellie Holman, the dentist held in Dubai for three days with her four-year-old daughter after drinking a complimentary glass of wine on a flight from London, is due to return to the UK after being released.
Human rights group Detained in Dubai said authorities in the United Arab Emirates decided not to pursue the charges they brought against the 44-year-old from Sevenoaks, Kent.
She is due to return to the UK on Sunday.
In a statement, 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, human rights group 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.”
Holman, who lives in Sevenoaks in Kent with her English partner Gary and their three children, was initially denied water and made to clean toilets while in custody, according to the campaign group, Detained in Dubai.
The non-governmental organisation (NGO) formed to help people held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it is representing the woman and her daughter Bibi, who was “terrified” by the experience.
The 44-year-old was arrested on July 13 after allegedly having one glass of wine on her eight-hour Emirates Airline flight to Dubai from London, a statement from the group said.
She was taken into custody after an immigration official questioned her about her visa and asked if she had consumed alcohol.
Around 1.5 million British nationals visit the UAE every year, with the FCO claiming “most visits are trouble-free.”
Stirling, from Detained In Dubai, 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.”