Yesterday a story went viral about a woman who was detained at Dubai Airport. The woman from the UK claimed she was detained because she didn’t have the correct visa, and the officers started questioning her about her drinking, causing her to be detained. She claimed she had a single glass of wine on her Emirates flight.
Several of you asked me to share my take on the story, and at first I wasn’t comfortable writing about it, because the story didn’t add up. On one hand, I don’t want to completely dismiss the woman’s story. On the other hand, when a story sounds too bizarre to be true, generally there’s more to it.
I’m not suggesting the UAE is the world’s most progressive place, but Emirates transports tens of millions of passengers per year, and many of them drink a lot more than a single glass of wine on an Emirates flight. I figured there had to be more to the story, especially as we were just getting one person’s side of the story.
What also didn’t add up is that the woman was supposedly turned away because she only had a single entry visa, so she couldn’t enter the country. European citizens can get visas upon arrival, so that didn’t make sense.
So I didn’t write about the story because I felt like there had to be more to it. I didn’t want to say the woman was lying, but at the same time I wasn’t about to point fingers at the UAE.
Dubai Airport officials have now provided their version of the story, which actually makes sense. The woman was detained after she began filming a heated discussion between her and immigration officials using her smartphone. Per The Sun, quoting an immigration official:
“We dispute Dr Holman’s account of her treatment.
She was not turned away because she had a one-visit visa, as she claimed, because European citizens get a 30-day visa upon arrival.
UAE law is strict on people recording others on their mobile phone without permission, which will not have helped Dr Holman’s case.
She became abusive towards airport staff, which is not tolerated.
We cannot comment further as Dr Holman’s case is still under review but there is more to her story than she has told.”
Virtually every country has laws against filming immigration facilities, and that includes the US. If you actively defy the orders of immigration officials, you can bet you won’t be welcomed into the country.
If she was being belligerent, it also explains why immigration officials might ask what she had to drink on her flight.
To be clear, I’m not saying that either side is necessarily 100% right or wrong here. But the explanation that she was detained for being belligerent and having filmed immigration officers is a lot more believable than suggesting it was because she had a single glass of wine on her Emirates flight and didn’t have the correct visa (that last part is patently false).
Based on the information shared so far, it sure seems to me like there’s nothing to see here, and reasonable policies were followed…