A mother detained in Dubai for three days with her four-year-old daughter after drinking a glass of wine has landed back in the UK and been greeted by her delighted family.
Swedish dentist Ellie Holman, who lives in Sevenoaks in Kent with her English partner Gary and their three children, received an apology from the Dubai government after she and her daughter were freed yesterday.
She told MailOnline: ‘I’m just so relieved to be home and can’t wait to be with my family, recover and rest.’
The 44-year-old, who was met by her partner Gary at Gatwick Airport, added: ‘It feels amazing to be free and back in a safe country.
‘I’m just looking forward to being with my family. I want to hold all of them together and never let them go.’
Earlier she revealed that she and Bibi, four, had been held in a ‘baking hot and foul smelling’ room and slept in a canteen area where lights were kept on constantly.
She was initially denied water and made to clean toilets while in custody, according to human rights group Detained in Dubai.
The Kent-based dentist was told she could leave after a personal intervention by the country’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed.
Ms Holman was arrested on July 13 after having one glass of wine on her eight-hour Emirates Airline flight to Dubai from London, a statement from the non-governmental organisation (NGO) formed to help people held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said.
She was taken into custody after an immigration official questioned her about her visa and asked if she had consumed alcohol.
The group said Ms Holman and Bibi were travelling to Dubai for a five-day break to visit friends, having visited a number of times before.
After landing she was questioned by an immigration official, who said her visa was invalid and she must return to London immediately, the group said.
Ms Holman claims he was ‘dismissive and rude’ when she asked if she could buy another visa, and was then questioned about her alcohol consumption – which she admitted.
But hours before she flew home, Dubai’s Attorney General claimed she was not detained over a glass of wine, but because she verbally abused an immigration officer because her passport was expired.
Officials also said she was held for less than 24 hours, but offered no explanation as to why she was given a blood test and shown her alcohol reading.
Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said: ‘The UAE maintains a deliberately misleading facade that alcohol consumption is perfectly legal for visitors.
‘Tourists cannot be blamed for believing that the Emirates are tolerant of Western drinking habits, but this is far from reality.
‘It is wholly illegal for any tourist to have any level of alcohol in their blood, even if consumed in flight and provided by Dubai’s own airline. It is illegal to consume alcohol at a bar, a hotel and a restaurant and if breathalysed, that person will be jailed.’