It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.
It’s 2008. A Brisbane woman, in her mid twenties traveled to the United Arab Emirates to head up a spa and beauty salon at a four-and-a-half star resort on the coast. Her income is tax-free and her living expenses – including accommodation at the Meridien Al Aqah beach resort – are covered by her US employer, Starwood Hotels.
But only three months into her working holiday, things went seriously wrong.
On Channel 7’s Sunday Night program this weekend, 31-year-old Alicia Gali shared a story of how her “luxurious” working holiday landed her in jail for eight months.
It started late one night when her room flooded. After Alicia called maintenance services and then she went to the hotel bar to have a drink and use her laptop while the problem was fixed.
It was in that bar – which was reserved for staff at the resort – that Alicia says her drink was spiked.
“I remember drinking the drink – I don’t even remember finishing the drink,” Alicia told reporter Ross Coulthart.
“Next thing I know I wake up at 4:30 in the afternoon the next day. The door to my apartment was ajar, I was completely naked with just my bra handing off my shoulder. I woke up in pain; I had broken ribs and a lot of bruising to my body.”
Three hotel employees allegedly raped her. And the flood in her room was eventually determined to have been caused by a men’s shirt and a plastic bag being been stuffed into the drain.
Alicia told her managers what had happened and that she wanted to report it to police. She also wanted to go to the hospital for treatment. But what Alicia did not know was that the laws in the United Arab Emirates are very different to Australia – and that even admitting to drinking alcohol could land her in a lot of trouble.