Ellie Holman

“The UAE maintains a deliberately misleading facade that alcohol consumption is perfectly legal for visitors. This is exampled by Emirates Airlines serving alcohol in flight, by bars at the airport, by hotels, restaurants and clubs serving drinks. Tourists can not 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 confusing when alcohol is provided so freely by licensed bars and hotels. The issue is that there is no clear law that defines acceptable blood alcohol levels in public. It is a zero tolerance and if breathalysed, usually as a result of another complaint, you can be prosecuted even where the blood alcohol reading is very low." Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai

"Over the past ten years, we have helped numerous tourists who been completely unaware that drinking in a licensed bar is illegal. Why would they be aware? Their governments have not warned them, the airline has not warned them and the bar they ordered the drinks at has not warned them. This is because the UAE does not want to publicly admit that drinking alcohol at bars is against the law. They prefer to lure tourists in to believing that the gulf state is a tolerant party destination comparable to Las Vegas or Bangkok and nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is time that all airlines transiting through or to the UAE cease serving alcohol to passengers, criminalising them and risking their arrest. If consumption of alcohol is illegal in the UAE, airlines are complicit in serving alcohol to their passengers and need to be accountable and liable for their actions. I expect that we will soon see airlines being sued for damages and losses incurred by their passengers when they are arrested. Perhaps when criminalising passengers results in financial losses for the airlines, we will see the practice cease”.