UK Embassy in Dubai clarifies alcohol advice for British travellers entering the country

Air hostess serving refreshments
An Austrian Airlines flight attendant serving refreshments to passengers. Photo: Austrian Airlines

The British Embassy in the United Arab Emirates has had to clarify its advice regarding alcohol following a Facebook update posted yesterday warning travellers that they could be arrested for having alcohol in their system, even if transiting at the airport. This is despite alcohol being available in the airport itself.

The original post said: 

“If caught carrying or drinking alcohol without a licence or with alcohol in your blood you can be arrested. It is a punishable offence to be under the influence of alcohol in public-including when transiting through the UAE. It can result in custodial sentences &/or fine (other offences committed while drunk will be heard separately).”

The warning comes after British based Swedish dentist Ellie Holman was detained in July after having drunk a glass of wine during her eight-hour Emirates Airline flight to Dubai from London, although the charges were later dropped.

Many travellers fly between the UK and Kenya via Dubai, meaning this advice would also apply to them.

A subsequent clarification by the Embassy said: “For clarity, there has been no change to the UK Government’s advice to British nationals on consuming alcohol in the UAE.”

Radha Stirling, chief executive of human rights group Detained in Dubai, said: “In light of the FCO’s announcement, we will be contacting all airlines who transit to or through the UAE to clarify their position on serving alcohol to passengers.

“Either the UAE will need to reform their laws urgently, or the airlines will need to update their policy to ensure the safety of customers.”

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