Doctor jailed after travelling to United Arab Emirates with prescription antidepressants

A junior doctor has revealed how he was jailed after airport staff in Abu Dhabi seized prescription medication from his luggage.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 2:19 pm
Ali Ayman with partner Sommer Sheridan

Dr Ali Ayman, was visiting family in the United Arab Emirates last week when he was held at customs.

The 24-year-old had anti-depressants as well as prescription medication he was bringing home for his mother in the Emirates when he was stopped and stripped of the drugs.

Dr Ali Ayman

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But despite the drugs being prescribed and legal in the UK, a strict new law was brought into the UAE last year requiring people to declare medication before travelling.

Dr Ayman, who hit YEP headlines last month with his plane proposal to partner Sommer Sheridan in Leeds city centre, said he was visiting the country where his family now reside to celebrate his engagement when he was stopped and jailed.

He said: "I was travelling home to see my family and friends and celebrate the good news but I was stopped at customs and had a thorough check, they found my antidepressants (completely legal and prescribed) and mum’s medication (she asked me to get it for her from the UK cause it’s cheaper than in UAE).

"I must have forgotten the prescriptions at home from the rush. I was not allowed to explain or call to get copies of them and was locked in for 30 hours only after they confiscated the medication, took the prescriptions (that my family brought when the found out what happened) and charged me a bail of £2000."

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He now wants more people to be aware of the strict law to prevent others being jailed.

"Sommer and her family couldn’t believe what happened to me", he added. "Yet told me they’ve seen this on the news plenty of times before where British citizens have been locked up in UAE for the simplest of reasons.

"I just wanted to raise awareness and perhaps make those that take regular prescription medication aware that what is classed as a Class D drug in the UK might be classed as A here and would get you a life sentence if you don’t have a hard copy of the prescription with you."

Dr Ayman, who lives in Shipley, added: "It was the worst day of my life, I was never this embarrassed or humiliated. I was treated like a proper criminal when I’ve never committed any sort of crime my whole life."

The UAE is not the only Islamic country where laws on bringing in medication are strict.

In 2017, Laura Plummer from Hull was jailed for four weeks after travelling to the Egyptian resort of Hurghada with painkillers.

Tourists travelling to the United Arab Emirates must fill out an electronic form if they wish to bring medicine with them to the country, according to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

More information on travelling to the UAE with medication is available on the FCO's travel advice here.