Drinking on flights to Dubai could land you in jail

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While many of us like to take our seat on a plane and settle in for a long-haul flight with complimentary stiff drink in hand, doing so on this flight may land you in jail.

The British Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has warned tourists to avoid drinking on flights to Dubai, where even transiting through the popular airport under the influence of alcohol is a punishable offence.

According to the embassy: “It is a punishable offence to be under the influence of alcohol in public – including when transiting through the UAE. If caught carrying or drinking alcohol without a licence or with alcohol in your blood you can be arrested.”

This also means that, while it may be legal to drink in the air, it is illegal to be under the influence when you land in Dubai.

The UAE’s licensing laws are confusing at best. It states that non-Muslim residents can purchase and drink alcohol if they have a license. It is illegal to drink without one. This poses a problem for tourists, because it’s not possible for them to get a license. It’s possible for tourists to buy alcohol from licensed venues, but illegal for them to be under the influence.

This warning comes after Dr Ellie Holman was arrested and held for a month in Dubai because she drank a glass of wine on her flight from Britain. Dr Holman has since been released and deported.

According to Lonely Planet, unless it is obvious that you are drunk and disorderly, UAE authorities may usually turn a blind eye when it comes to alcohol laws. However, Dr Holman’s case is a reminder that being under the influence in a country that prohibits alcohol can land you in hot water.

Have you ever thought that you could be arrested in the UAE for having a drink on a plane? Do you know of any other countries where this could happen?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 8
  1. 0

    The info in this article patently shows just how hypocritical ( in general ) Muslim Countries are. It’s quite acceptable to buy alcoholic drinks there-in, but you need a license to consume it. Of course the ( rub with salt in the wound is ) tourist aren’t permitted to get one in the first place.

    Far better for Muslim Airlines like Etihad, etc, to just adequately inform inbound tourists, that alcoholic beverages are not sold in their Country; so don’t even try sourcing it whilst there & should you be found to have any alcohol on your person coming thru customs, it will be promptly confiscated, a stern written warning ( in the relevant language ) & you will be sent on your way.

    • 0

      They should also NOT serve alcohol on their planes either then considering they would know that every single passenger who had a drink could be arrested on landing! Especially if that drink was taken within about three hours of arrival.

  2. 0

    Reminds me of Australia, it is illigal to have pot but not illegal to smoke it.

  3. 0

    We’ve flown into Dubai many times and ALWAYS drink something on the plane. So does everybody else.
    The get you in leader for this story is misleading and yes if you stagger around drunk in the terminal you would be on thin ice. That’s called common sense, something Australians abroad (and at home) sometimes fail to have.

  4. 0

    So she drank ONE glass of wine?. How did they determine she was under the influence? Do they do RBT at the airport? I’m sure most people can have ONE glass of wine and nobody could tell. Did the aircrew blab? My guess is she had more than ONE glass.
    Anyhow, I would NEVER travel to or through any of these countries. They are nothing but hypocritical in their approach to this stuff. I note that many of those in power in these countries do drink, and not just ONE glass. Its interesting that western countries we bend over backwards to accommodate other religions but in countries like Saudi Arabia its an offense to even bring Christian material into the country.

  5. 0

    The woman in question is a Kent based dentist who regularly goes to the UAE to provide beauty treatments such as Botox from which she earns considerable money. She travelled to Dubai on an expired Swedish passport but also had an Iranian one. No mention of a British passport and although the woman may work in UK, it is doubted that she is British. There was an issue with her expired Swedish passport and her Visa and the woman became heated with an Immigration Official.It was because of this that the Police were called and things escalated from there. The fact that the woman had drunk a glass of wine on the flight into Dubai is true, but is a media beat up of the British Tsbloids, put out as a diversion to hide what exactly had happened. Presumably because of the adverse publicity to The UAE, the matter was dropped and the woman was reimbused formhermcosts. All of this is easily fact checked via dear old Dr Google.

  6. 0

    Fake news about the doctor and the rest is exaggerated

    • 0

      Yes, some things that come up on Google searches are fake, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence and common sense can usually discern what is fake news and what is fact, particularly if you don’t accept information from one obviously unreliable source – for example Facebook articles.In this instance, I obtained this information from BBC South East News and the local newspaper, but there was a host of other news sites that appeared to carry much the same information. It was a media up from the tabloids in the UK.
      I have several friends who regularly post controversial articles from very questionable sources on face value, never questioning their authenticity and I shake my head at their gullibility.



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