We now have more information what happened to that Swedish passenger who got arrested in Dubai (read more here) for allegedly having glass of wine on Emirates flight from London who also had some issues with her visa.
Turns out that her Swedish passport had expired. She had been asked to change her return flight and buy 96-hour visa available for Iranian citizens (passport she also had that was still valid). Things appears to have gone south from there.
UAE Media Office issued the following statement on Saturday:
His Excellency Esam Issa Al Humaidan, Attorney General of Dubai, today confirmed that the Dubai Public Prosecution has completed investigations and closed the case involving a Swedish national who attempted to enter the UAE on an expired passport.
The incident started with the arrival of the accused with her daughter from London Gatwick Airport on board an Emirates flight. She attempted to enter the country using a Swedish passport, which had already expired on June 10, 2018. She was advised by the immigration officer that she could not enter the country with an expired passport. She then produced an Iranian passport, and was informed by the officer that she could enter the country by issuing a new temporary visa, which allowed a 96-hour stay, and had to change her departure flight according to the new visa.
Ms. Hollman refused angrily due to the additional payment fees the process would require, and proceeded to verbally insult the immigration officer and take photos of the officer via her phone.
A legal claim was issued against Ms. Holman with charges of profanity and photographing a government official at the border crossing, a restricted area. The woman and her child remained together in the airport security office for less than 24 hours while services were provided to them, taking into full account and consideration of her 4-year-old daughter. Her father received her immediately upon his arrival and they subsequently departed the country. The prosecution decided to drop the charges against Ellie Hollman and to deport her instead.
The Media Office statement doesn’t address the alcohol issue at all.
The National (UAE paper) wrote the following (address their piece here):
The attorney general said initial charges were issued against Ms Holman for profanity and photographing a government official at a border crossing, which is a restricted area. Most airports ban photographing or filming airport officials or immigration entry points.
She initially told British media that her detention related to having a glass of wine on her flight to Dubai, which is not an offence nor a reason for her detention.
Not having an alcohol license is not usually an issue but when things start going south it is usually something that is asked by the authorities and then you have a problem.
Here’s Canada Government’s Consular handout about the alcohol law in the UAE:
Alcoholic Beverages Law in the UAE
Consular Information Handout
If you hold a residence permit for the UAE, you are required by law to hold a liquor licence in order to legally purchase alcoholic beverages from a liquor store or to consume alcohol at restaurants/hotels. The liquor licence must be issued by the competent authority of each emirate.
- The applicant must be non-Muslim. Note that persons born Muslims still cannot obtain a license even if they do not practise religion.
- The applicant’s salary must be more than AED3000 per month.
- The liquor license is only a buying permit and it gives no immunity against any alcohol related criminal offence.
- The license is valid in the issuing Emirate only.
- Non-residents cannot obtain an alcohol license but can consume alcohol in licensed hotels/restaurants.
- Consumers in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi should apply for the alcohol license online, through the Special License Office. All supporting documentations must be uploaded online as well: Digital photo, passport, residency visa, certificate of religion for certain cases (affidavit obtained from Embassy), no-objection letter from employer, and salary certificate. Some stores such as Spinneys can provide more information and guidance as well.
- Consumers in the Emirate of Dubai can apply for the license online or through MMI or African & Eastern store
- Alcohol is strictly prohibited in Sharjah.
It is a punishable offence under the provision of the Alcoholic Beverages Law to:
- Drive under the influence of alcohol.
- Purchase and consume alcohol without a liquor licence.
- Obtain alcoholic beverages from places other than those licensed by the government.
- Exceed the monetary limit imposed by the licence.
- Obtain alcoholic beverage if you are under the age of 21.
Anyone arrested for being drunk in a public place, and found guilty by a court of law, could receive a custodial sentence of not less than two months. They may also be fined up to AED5000. Any other offence or crime committed while intoxicated (e.g. physical and/or verbal abuse) will be heard separately.
As you can see, there is a contradiction here. Although you can drink freely at the licensed establishments, you theoretically still need the license to consume.
The media statement that the UAE government issued doesn’t cover the alcohol issue at all. Was she asked if she had consumed beverages on the Emirates flight and asked to provided an alcohol license or not? Wouldn’t surprise me if this had been the case. This is usually the easiest way for the authorities in UAE to prosecute foreigners in the state.
I am surprised how fast the UAE was able to solve this case and media office to release this note. They must have felt the heat.
We don’t write about all the crazy incidents that gets reported in the media. I decided to include this because many incorrectly think that UAE is free wheeling “summer” destination that it is not. UAE should make tourist completely exempt of their alcohol license requirement.