There’s no beating around the bush. I guess this is the first installment of Story Time With Elijah!
I left this page blank with nothing but the title for a solid five minutes because I was just laughing too hard at how ridiculous the past 24 hours have been. Let this story be a VERY important lesson on what to bring to your destination. In fact, I’m going to write a guide about the UAE after this so you don’t make the same mistakes I do.
Prior to leaving Edinburgh, I had been prescribed antibiotics for a toothache. I knew the UAE and Asia as a whole have different laws concerning medicine. Like, very different. The laws can be different to the point where in the UAE, if you bring in medicine without a prescription, you can get slapped with years in prison. After arduous research, I get a copy of my prescription and a letter from my dentist! I’m prepared, proper, and professional. I got through AD on the way to Bangkok with no issue.
Fast-forward two weeks, I’m coming back from a long, maddening, insane two weeks in Southeast Asia. I hit all the stops; Thailand , Vietnam, and Cambodia. I was exhausted, I smelled like garbage, and I just wanted to take a shower at the Abu Dhabi airport before I headed out on the town for a 15-hour layover.
I zip through security just fine, but as I clear customs, a guard asks to see my passport. “Well, I’m getting searched. They’re gonna somehow find .003 grams of weed on my shoe I stepped on in Bangkok and ruin my life!” Despite these slightly exaggerated, but valid fears, I remained calm.
They take me into the interrogation room and search through my bag, and they don’t find anything. So far so good! However, at the very end…they find a pill in my small jeans pocket above my regular pocket. The one where I usually keep my keys. Of course. I still had the letter/prescription but I didn’t have the packaging. How would they know I was telling the truth that this was just an antibiotic for my tooth, rather than MDMA or something??? I had heard of people getting arrested for bringing in prescriptions without the original packaging since it looked suspicious, so I just Accepted My Death. But not really. I knew I was in the right and I was determined to prove it.
The officer calmly told me not to panic (they were surprisingly respectful) and he left the room. My entire body went numb. I just started praying and taking deep breaths, and hoping they were testing my pill to see if it was legit. I just kept thinking, “this is the end” “I’m going to be one of those news stories” “Maybe this will give me some great promo for my blog!” Okay, I didn’t think the last one, but it did give me this post, I guess. Good for me?
After what feels like five millennia, the officer returns. I await his verdict like a helpless defendant, just desperate to hear that I’m okay to go. He then says another officer has questions, so I happily oblige. I just want to get out of here as fast as possible.
The “interrogation” was super simple. He just told me that the pill was cleared (thank GOD), asked for my medical papers, and what I was doing in Abu Dhabi. I told him I was just a defenseless, unsuspecting tourist just trying to see his city for a day before going back to Scotland! I showed him my papers, and then they searched me again, then they let me go.
This all happened in about 15 minutes, but each minute felt like a full hourglass cycle, with each speck of sand trickling through the passage feeling like an additional hour. I don’t think I’ve felt that much genuine trepidation in my life, and the relief I felt when they told me I could go almost made me cry. I just gave them a firm, yet gleeful handshake, thanking them for not robbing me of my rights and family, and swiftly left the airport. As a whole, I don’t think they would have arrested me, even if I didn’t have my papers. They said I was good to go before I even showed them because they tested it. They had no grounds! So, that was my casual Sunday afternoon of how I almost got arrested for drugs in Abu Dhabi!
On the bright side, Abu Dhabi is a really nice city! What happened was my own mistake of not checking even my smallest pockets to make sure I wouldn’t cause an issue. I don’t want anyone get discouraged when reading this. Abu Dhabi, and the UAE as a whole is a super modern, exciting country that absolutely deserves a visit. And I’m super excited to write about my day in Abu Dhabi soon!